East Central College soccer Head Coach Jay Mehrhoff has been pleased with what he has seen over the first few days of practice.

The team started practicing last Thursday and Mehrhoff said the team has been doing well so far.

“Conditioning is going well,” Mehrhoff said. “We have been incorporating a lot of fitness with the ball and then been doing some of the essential fitness tests. We completed the 15-meter shuttle beep test this morning and almost every player hit the level 10 mark. We had two hit the level 14 mark which is considered almost international professional standards of fitness.”

Mehrhoff is returning to the coaching ranks this season as East Central could not find a suitable head coach during the summer. The school’s athletic director, Mehrhoff is getting to know the players as the team prepares for its two preseason matches Aug. 13 at Harris-Stowe State University and Aug. 17 at Saint Louis Football Club.

“We will have a good starting 11 and need to gel as a team later in the preseason,” Mehrhoff said. “Our first preseason game, next Tuesday, Aug. 13, against Harris-Stowe, will be a strong indication of where we stand with our fitness. The heat of the late afternoon games in August and early September will take a lot out of the players. The last 25 minutes will be crucial to winning matches and if we can endure the heat, we should pick up some early season wins.”

So far, Mehrhoff has been impressed by the group.

“I have been impressed with the work ethic of the group as a whole,” Mehrhoff said. “We should be very competitive this year with our starting 11. We need to have a couple of players step up and fill some roles as the first five substitutes. The next five players are crucial to winning tough junior college games with the unlimited substitution rule.”

Mehrhoff pointed out a few who have stepped up.

“Some of the players who have stepped up in practices have been Cayden Schall (St. Francis Borgia Regional), Donald Meyer (Lutheran South) and Elhadji Diane (North Tech),” Mehrhoff said. “All three have reached a high level of fitness and look to compete for playing time”

Two players haven’t made it into camp yet. Ottmar Escalante (Washington) is on his way back from San Diego. Stephen Akot (Ichthus, Dronten, Netherlands) is scheduled to reach camp Aug. 13.

“Our roster looks to be solid at 22-23 players,” Mehrhoff said.