Men’s soccer preview Q&A

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Ryan Johnston

Newly installed men’s head soccer coach Bobby Muuss discusses the team’s prospects for the 2015 season

What’s it like to be back at Wake Forest?
It’s great. Wake is a special place, and it’s always had a very special place in my heart for the six years that I was here. I’ve always stayed connected any way I possibly could while being away for eight years, but it’s a special place and the way community, administration and even the players have welcomed myself and the new staff has been pretty incredible.

What are this season’s expectations?
We want to take it game by game. I don’t think the expectations for our program have ever changed, from 20 years ago to 10 years ago to today. The expectations are to win championships; we want to win an ACC Championship, we want to win a National Championship. A lot of things need to happen to accomplish that … but we just want to get better each and every week, and learn from each weekend.

What will the style of play be like this year?
We want to try to play a high tempo, possession-type offense. We definitely want to be organized defensively. You’ll hear the guys say that we want to press, but we want to press at the right times where we can win the ball back … to let some of the special players that we have in the attack to do their thing. We definitely want to be a dynamic, attacking, possession-based team, but with a lot of energy and urgency when we don’t have the ball as well.

Who needs to step up this year?
We’re looking for 29 of our guys to step up. That is the truth, that each and every one of our guys plays an important role in some capacity. For us to be successful, all 29 and the five staff and all of our support staff need to be on the same page and going to work every day to get better. If we can do that, we can put together a pretty special group. If we start going one way or the other, leaning on one player or three players, I think that’s where we’ll break down. We need each and every one of our guys to play a role this year.

What parts of the team do you consider to be among some of its greatest strengths?
It’s pretty evident just from the first two games that we’re pretty dynamic in the attack. There’s definitely a strong emphasis coming off of last season, and people know that Wake Forest can score some goals. There’s definitely a collective, common goal to make sure we keep the ball out of the back of our net. We told the guys the other day the earth-shattering news that if we don’t let up goals, we can’t lose. So we’re going on that motto. We definitely want to defend as a group and let our attacking players do what they do well, and that’s score goals.

Do you find value in preseason games as your team prepares for the opener against Santa Clara?
We don’t know much about Santa Clara, besides that they have a great tradition. The last time Santa Clara played at Wake Forest was in the quarterfinals in 2006, which was actually the last game I coached in Winston-Salem. There’s a lot of history with Santa Clara, and they’ll be a very competitive and feisty group. They believe in themselves and their brand, and it’s the first game of the season for everybody.

No one knows what to expect. I think there’s always high energy, and it’s sometimes almost too fast of a game, but we’re expecting a really good challenge from Santa Clara. We don’t read into the Kentucky game, we don’t read into their result against Stanford, the only thing that we can worry about is taking it day by day and focus on having a good performance on Friday.