The men’s soccer team is nearing the end of their season but their play is heating up. Senior midfielder Steve Welles is a key part of the Yellowjackets late season charge. The Yellowjackets are looking to get past the Elite 8, which they were unable to do last season.

In one of the biggest games of the year against No. 11 ranked Washington University in St. Louis, Welles scored the game-winning goal in overtime.

Starting in all of the games this year, Welles has helped lead the Yellowjackets to a 7-1-5 record and 1-1-2 in the University Athletic Association conference. Welles has two goals and two assists in the season.

As a senior, this will be his final season where he looks to bring the Yellowjackets over the hump into the championships.

How did you start playing soccer?

I started when I was really young, like five years old. It’s the first sport I ever played, I’ve been playing it my whole life.

Did you watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup this year?

Not as much as I would have liked to because I was working in New York City.

Who were you rooting for?

The U.S. But right after the U.S., Spain. So I was pretty happy.

Why did you choose UR?

Definitely the balance between athletics and academics. Being able to do both seemed like the best idea. That, and [head] coach [Chris] Apple was one of the reasons why I came here. He’s really on top of everything.

Do you have any superstitions while playing?

Superstitions? Honestly no, nothing that fun or interesting. I have a pre-game routine but that doesn’t consist of much. I grab a shower before the game, get dressed and then listen to the same playlist. I’m not even sure of half the songs on it. I just hit play.

What has been your favorite moment on the soccer team so far in your career?

I would have to say definitely going to the Elite 8 in the tournament. And hopefully this year it will be beating Messiah [College] to go to the Final Four.

That’s my next question, how far do you see the team going this year?

It feels like right now we’re peaking toward the right time. Beating WashU was huge, mentally, and I think that’s going to help us going forward.

I mean we could go to the Sweet 16 or we could go all the way to the championship. Had we beaten Messiah last year, we could have won it.

Who is your role model in your collegiate career?

It sounds pretty standard, but the people who are involved every day, like all the coaching staff — even the players. When a guy on your team does something different that you wouldn’t expect, you can take that in your own game. And parents too.

Have any players helped you specifically along the way?

That’s the nice thing. Honestly, there have been a bunch. You always hear about people saying that these are your closest friends, but it’s true.

What would you say is more important to you: a clutch goal or a big defensive stop?

Whichever one is going to win the game at the time. If we’re winning, definitely the defensive stop. If we’re tied, like with WashU, definitely the goal in overtime.

Manrique is a member of the class of 2012.

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