Finn Jacobs has been playing soccer for as long as he can remember, mostly as a hobby. Now, as a member of Salt Lake Community College’s intercollegiate soccer team, Jacobs is turning his passion into a potential career.
Jacobs, a sophomore in SLCC’s general studies program, plays on the men’s soccer team with student athletes from all over the world. He and his teammates have been training hard this summer to compete against championship-caliber teams during the fall season.
“You don’t want to lose, but if you take it too seriously, you can psych yourself out,” Jacobs said.
The Bruins transitioned from a soccer club to an official collegiate program in 2016. The men’s team has advanced to the Final Four championship three years in a row, winning an NJCAA national title during the 2020–21 season.
“We have had a lot of success these past couple of years, which is why we have that target on our backs,” said SLCC assistant men’s soccer coach Trentin Atkin.
Now, the Bruins have their sights set on another championship as they prepare to compete in the 2023–24 season. Mark Davis, who has been the team’s head coach since 2016, is optimistic about their chances. He said they are currently focused on keeping their players sharp.
“This is who we are; this is what we do,” Davis said.
Davis also described the team’s particular style of play: His Bruins tend to build against the other team, press on offense and defense, and counter-press when possession of the ball is lost. Their plan also tends to change, depending on the competition’s moves.
Davis emphasized that the team likes to focus on themselves, rather than obsessing about the competition. He said they are always working to iron out what may actually happen during game time.
To win championships — and continue their hot streak — the Bruins need to play well against strong teams. Davis called such games “meaningful matches,” or those that lead up to the championship matches in November.
“If you’re not a national champion or you’re not making the Final Four, then people will say that it’s a failed season,” explained Davis, adding that his team embraces the challenge every year.
In 2019, the Bruins were left out of the national intercollegiate tournament. Davis said it may have been one of the biggest setbacks for the team, but it also has become one of the team’s biggest motivators.
“As a group and as a unit, we have not been left out of a national tournament since ; we have been to the Final Four championships the last several years as well,” he said.
Despite the setback in 2019, SLCC continues to prioritize camaraderie amongst their ranks. Davis explained that wins and losses aren’t as important to the team as working together.
Off the field, student athletes sometimes struggle to balance soccer, academics, relationships, jobs and families. Davis has seen firsthand how players can fall short in other aspects of their lives. Even if players are performing well on the field, their academic lives are a priority, and Davis said he’s been forced to make tough decisions.
Over the summer, the team focused heavily on recruiting. They also worked with the international office to find international players, in order to bolster a roster which includes athletes from across the United States. The Bruins’ fall season kicks off on Aug. 17.
For more information about the SLCC men’s soccer team, visit slccbruins.com/sports/mens-soccer.