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DEFENDER

Heins finds role on Knights men’s soccer team

Staff photo by Ari Selvey Isaiah Heins deflects the ball away from University of Wisconsin — Superior’s Freddy Watson during a Upper Midwest Athletic Conference men’s soccer game on Oct. 21 at the Martin Luther College Soccer Complex in New Ulm.

Two seasons ago, Isaiah Heins put together a strong senior season for the New Ulm boys soccer team, quietly playing his defensive position.

The Minnesota Valley Lutheran graduate chose Martin Luther College as the school to take his talents, playing in a limited role his freshman year by accumulating 155 minutes on the field.

Now a sophomore, Heins solidified himself as a key piece of the Knights’ back line as he worked his way into a starting position in the sixth game of the season, never looking back. As of Oct. 30, Heins has totaled 1,078 minutes played, fourth on the team despite missing two games with injury.

“I came off the bench the first couple games this year, as to be expected,” Heins said. “Coming in as a sophomore, there’s older talent on the team that got some good playing time that they deserved. But I’ve been really appreciative of the coaches for putting me into the role and seeing the work I’m putting in and seeing how much of an impact I can make on the field. I’ve really had a lot of fun playing back there on defense — a couple games at centerback, that was a fun change. As long as I’ve been healthy, I’ve been having a lot of fun in my role.”

Heins has been enjoying his time at MLC, both on and off the soccer pitch.

Staff photo by Ari Selvey Isaiah Heins passes the ball forward during a Upper Midwest Athletic Conference men’s soccer game against University of Wisconsin — Superior on Oct. 21 at the Martin Luther College Soccer Complex in New Ulm.

“I love the environment,” Heins said. “The coaches always keep the practices fun and overall the team environment — we’re all in the same boat. We’re all pastors and teachers and we obviously all have a higher goal than just playing soccer out on the field. That kind of bond, it really brings the team together, and we just have a lot of fun moments together with the guys… This sophomore year has been a lot busier with the work load, but I’ve been surviving as any college student does [laughs]. But I do like the campus, it’s nice and small, and the city of New Ulm is just a nice place. You can get everywhere you need to go, and overall the dorms are fun.”

Heins usually mans the outside defender position but is flexible enough to be placed in the center of the defense as well. While he doesn’t get much recognition in the box score, Heins is pivotal in his role of clearing the ball when the opposing team threatens his net. Heins played defense for his final two years of high school, but he said that there was still an adjustment to taking on the college level.

“Being at the bottom of the UMAC [Upper Midwest Athletic Conference] is still a huge jump up from the high school level.” Heins said. “I think the biggest difference between high school and the college level is that everyone is good. You have people coming off the bench who could just fully dominate in the high school level. And obviously they’re a little older, the physicality is much higher, and everyone takes the game more seriously. You’re playing against guys that are sometimes coming from Europe, from South America. It’s a fun challenge.”

In order to rise to the new level of competition, Heins says that he’s needed to improve on his decision making with the ball.

“I feel like I’ve always had a head for the game,” Heins said. “Seeing the passing patterns and all that, but I think I’ve improved my calmness with the ball. I remember back in high school, I’d get a little stressed if some guys was coming up on me, but I think I can get the ball off my foot and pass it off before I feel too much pressure, and I feel like I’m more calm with the ball than I was, even last year.”

Staff photo by Ari Selvey Isaiah Heins chases down a ball during a Upper Midwest Athletic Conference men’s soccer game against Universy of Wisconsin — Superior on Oct. 21 at the Martin Luther College Soccer Complex in New Ulm.

Heins recognizes that he still has much to improve on in order to elevate his game further, starting with his shooting. Heins only has five shots, one on goal, in his second season on the team.

“I can definitely improve my shooting,” Heins said. “I don’t shoot a lot as a defender, but I do get some chances, and I want to put some work in the offseason on my shooting to become a valuable weapon on the offense as well.”

One thing Heins has learned since arriving on campus is flexibility, both in his sport of choice and in daily life.

“I’ve learned how to adapt,” Heins said. “Whether its on the soccer field or in the classroom. You have to learn to adapt. Sometimes you have a lesson plan that you’re planning on doing, and there’s things that you don’t prepare for and you just have to go with it on the fly, hope you can create something. That’s how it is in the game of soccer as well, where you planned for a team, you know what they’re going to do, and they switch it up on you. You have to be able to react and adapt. And not just react, but you have to be able to act on what you see and be able to figure it out on the fly.”

Heins outlines some of his goals for himself and for the team as MLC looks to improve on a 4-14-1 season this year. Heins said he wanted to win the final two games of the season, and he got halfway there, as they dropped their first game to the University of Northwestern, but came out on top in their final regular season game against North Central.

Staff photo by Ari Selvey Isaiah Heins sends the ball forward during a Upper Midwest Athletic Conference men’s soccer game against Universy of Wisconsin — Superior on Oct. 21 at the Martin Luther College Soccer Complex in New Ulm.

“Last year we finished at the bottom of the UMAC,” Heins said. “For a goal next year, we’re going to be a young team, we’re losing a lot of senior talent, so I would really like to see us build some chemistry. You always want to win more games, but I’d like to see us challenging for a playoff spot next year.”

Staff photo by Ari Selvey Isaiah Heins escapes Northland College’s Keagan Culbertson during an Upper Midwest Athletic Conference men’s soccer game on Oct 7 at the Martin Luther College Soccer Complex in New Ulm.

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