The Stanford men’s soccer team continues to climb in the national rankings, asserting its dominance and demanding respect on the field. With a strong start to the second half of the team’s conference schedule already secured, The Stanford Daily’s Elizabeth Trinh sat down with senior forward Zach Batteer and fifth-year senior midfielder Austin Meyer to reflect on this season and discuss their goals for the rest of the season.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): What do you think differentiates you from all the other soccer players you have faced who play your position?
Zach Batteer (ZB): I don’t think I do anything particularly exceptional, but I do think that my biggest trait is that I am honest and hardworking. I am willing to put in the work, and I’m not going to be the fancy forward who’s doing a bunch of stepovers and moves. For me, it’s just getting in front of the goal and doing my job, which is to score goals. It’s pretty straightforward for me, but I think what separates me is my attitude.
Austin Meyer (AM): I think probably my strongest asset as a center midfielder is my composure. So elaborating on composure, when the ball comes to me on the field, my heart rate never goes too high. I am pretty calm. Because I am calm and because I have good composure, I think that I am able to make good decisions on the field. I am not in a hurry, and so I am able to scan the field relatively quickly and make intelligent decisions.
TSD: What have been your biggest challenges as an individual and as a team so far this season?
ZB: I had a problem with my knee, stemming from last winter, almost spring, and that hung around for a while. In preseason, I was still coming back from injury, and I didn’t start off the season so well. So it was just mentally staying positive, knowing that if I kept going, things would turn around, and now they finally are, which is awesome. This year in particular – this is more a big picture – from where we were when our new coach, Jeremy Gunn, came in to where we are now, we’ve overcome tons of obstacles. It’s a better team, and we’re so much closer. The culture has gotten so much better.
AM: For my first few years here, I wasn’t a starter on the team. I wasn’t getting press or getting talked about as a player, and coming from when you’re the star in high school to suddenly you’re on the bench in college, it can knock your confidence. And so this year, I’ve gotten the opportunity to be a starter and be a leader on the team, and I think that one of my challenges has been really believing in myself as a leader on the field and off the field… There’s always those little nagging, negative voices in your head when you’re going into tough games and tough situations, but it’s been a great challenge, and I think I’ve risen to it with my self-belief and embracing the chance I get now. Biggest challenge as a team is playing in the best conference in the country because as a team, we have very lofty goals. We want to be Pac-12 champions. We want to be national champions, and to even win the Pac-12, it’s so challenging because there are so many great teams in our conference. We’re not happy when we come in second or if we tie a game, even when it’s to a great opposition, so the big challenge for our team is the level of competition we’re at.
TSD: This has been, hands down, the best season for Stanford men’s soccer since 2002. With that being said, what makes this season so different?
ZB: This has been a culmination of the last three years when our new coach, Jeremy Gunn, came in. He made a ton of changes, brought in a lot of new faces and totally changed the culture. That’s just really starting to pay off this year. There are no shortcuts; there are no magical solutions. It was just a matter of us putting in the work, working hard every day and training, and knowing that eventually we would get results. And it doesn’t hurt that we have a bunch of really talented players also.
— StanfordMen’sSoccer (@StanfordMSoccer) November 4, 2014
AM: I think having three years with this new coaching staff, like this is their third season, the team is fully to the place where everyone on the team has bought into the culture of what we’ve built here. From the top down to the youngest players, everyone really believes in our system, in what we’re going to accomplish. Everyone is willing to make a lot of sacrifices, which I know other teams in the country aren’t willing to do – some of the sacrifices off the field we make. We have a lot of depth this year. A lot of our freshmen are contributing, and that’s something that in the past, it’s taken freshmen a while to get up to speed because the culture wasn’t in a place that really could support them and bring them into the swing of things quickly.
TSD: As you enter the second half of the Pac-12 conference schedule, what are you looking to accomplish by the end of the season?
ZB: For me, as a senior, I just want to play as many games as possible, so that really means just winning games. We’re close to getting into the tournament. We still have to get a couple more results. We want to win the Pac-12, and then from there, once we get into the national tournament, it’s just game to game. For me, if I can come out of the season playing the most games as possible, that means I’ve been in the national championships, and that’s really what I want to achieve.
AM: I am looking to do my role on the field as best as I can to give my team the best chance to play as many games as possible.
Contact Elizabeth Trinh at entrinh ‘at’ stanford.edu.