WORTHINGTON -- Menkem Mehri, a senior with the Worthington High School boys soccer team, is one of the leaders on an outfit that enters the 2021 fall campaign as one of southwest Minnesota’s most illustrious units.
The Trojans have earned lofty pre-season accolades after several years of winning. They’ve got a senior-led squad ready to go this fall, and of course their expectations are high.
One truism of sports, however, is that for almost every good program, losing happens. For the best of them, losing happens usually at the end of a season -- because very few teams get to end the season with a victory.
For the Trojan boys soccer team last year, losing came in the Section 2A finals, in Worthington, and it came in overtime, 1-0, against an underdog Bloomington Kennedy team. The Trojans, who’d not lost during the regular season, were suddenly and unexpectedly denied a state tournament berth. And they were heartsick.
Recently, Mehri -- a junior then -- recalled the day.
“To be honest, we didn’t expect to lose, from us winning every game -- undefeated, even having one tie -- but Bloomington really caught us by surprise. … It was kind of devastating because that’s the last year the seniors could play with us. And they really meant a lot to us.”
But now, last year’s loss can serve as this year’s added inspiration.
“That is something I’ll remember,” Mehri said. “I want to win it for the people who didn’t win it with us, from last year and the previous years. I really want to win it. That’s all that I want when I play high school this year.”
He adds: “Losses actually help me a lot, to be honest. It kind of motivates me. I don’t want to feel the same way ever again. So it kind of motivates me and the team to get better. And we kind of figure out what we’ve got to do.”
So for Mehri, featured this week’s The Drill, the table is set. As an athlete who practically eats, sleeps and breathes soccer, he can be counted on to give it his all.
You can go online at www.dglobe.com to see our Drill video with Menkem. Here’s a sample of the interview:
QUESTION: What is your role with the team?
ANSWER: “The role I will have this season is, I play more attacking, less defensively. But I’m a CDM (central defensive midfielder). I basically hold the ball and I get all the way through the defense and try to get it to the scorers.”
QUESTION: Last season ended in disappointment, but how do you feel about this year?
ANSWER: “This year is going to be different because we all are seniors; most of the team. We have a couple sophomores and juniors. But we should be dominating. And we have chemistry that we’ve built up. That should be really good. And the other teams won’t handle the pressure we give. We don’t get tired. When practice starts, we just run a lot, and we do a lot of conditioning. So the team should be at 100 percent, and we’re gonna keep attacking and attacking and attacking and attacking.”
QUESTION: Outside of soccer, what are some of your other interests?
ANSWER: “It’s just soccer, to be honest. If you could ask anybody, they would say I just play soccer. But I like spending time with my friends. We like driving around, or sometimes just going out of town and stuff. That’s something I like to do. But I usually just spend time playing soccer and stuff like that.”