Today is his first entry of the campaign as he chronicles the adventures of the team during his senior season.
Hello, and welcome back all Milwaukee Panthers and fans! Many of you followers are probably very familiar with the legendary 'Bell’s Blog', written by former player Laurie Bell. As another Milwaukee Panther Men’s Soccer season opens, we are happy to say that the past author of Bell’s Blog has moved on to pursue his professional career as a Tulsa Roughneck, playing in the USL Pro League. When duty calls, I didn’t think there would be anyone to be a better fit than Laurie’s old roommate to take on the honors to keep the blogging rolling of the men’s soccer ins and outs for this up coming fall season.
With that being said, let me start by introducing myself. My name is Dustin Ashley and I am a senior captain on the team this year. This is my fourth year here as a Milwaukee Panther. I played my freshman year of college soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Deciding to transfer has lead me to a great experience academically and athletically, and not to mention meeting the incredible people that have come into my life along the way.
With everyone else just recently talking about their summers coming to an end with classes starting this week, our guys have already wrapped up our summer fun and have been hard at work for quite some time now already. We asked all of our guys, returners and incoming players, to report for captain’s practices, which were training sessions led by our other captain, Declan Rodriguez and myself. We spent our mornings playing small-sided games and taking team runs down to the beach, and our evenings finding air mattresses and couches for all the international guys to sleep on before moving into the dorms. It’s safe to say we became a tight group pretty quickly. We had a big incoming class. There is a lot of newness around the locker room, but filled with some good personalities and characters, with some still struggling to find their banter. This is a team filled with great soccer players, as well as great people this year.
Everyone was excited to get things rolling for preseason and the vibe in the camp was great. Knowing we had our first exhibition game only three days into preseason, we knew we had to come in fit and get right to work. Our first exhibition game vs. Loyola ended in a 1-1 tie. We were able to get everyone quality minutes as we played two completely different squads each half. A few days later we took the road and traveled to SIUE for our second and final preseason game. The home team certainly brought out the numbers in the stands, as it was their freshman welcome game. We traveled back home after suffering a 2-0 loss.
For the most part, we were all ready for our season and home opener with healthy bodies and our individual roles within the team figured out. We hosted Evansville at Engelmann Field, where we laid a smack down on them in front of our home fans on a rainy evening for a 5-2 win, which could have easily been an even bigger goal margin. With our confidence high, we hopped on a bus the next day heading off to Nebraska to take on #4 Creighton. We knew we were going to have our hands full playing an opponent of that caliber, but felt that we were also a very tough team and prepared so that we would give ourselves the best chance to get a result. Creighton provided a very professional environment for us, with an incredible stadium, great crowd, and a hotel that had many of the guys sending snapchats of how impressive it was. We fell to Creighton in a 4-0 loss in a game that we felt we weren’t as sharp as we need to be. All in all, our guys came away with a very good experience under our belts playing one of the best teams in the country.
As a team, we couldn’t sit around and sulk on our loss though, with Thursday bringing one of the best college soccer rivalries in the country to our campus. UWM vs. Marquette is a cross-town rivalry that attracts great crowds and a heated game to claim the Milwaukee Cup. It is our freshman welcome game so we should have a sea of black and gold, rowdy fans lead by our very own Michael Poll.
So I will do my best this season to share with you all our game results, where we are at as a team, and even some inside information that the public is dying to get their hands on. I know it will be tough to fill the shoes of Bell’s Blog, but I will certainly do my best. Hope you all follow along all season and get behind us for another great Milwaukee Panther Soccer season.