Who says a midfielder can’t score goals?
For Penn men’s soccer, arguably the most explosive player on the team so far this season has been junior midfielder Joey Bhangdia. Through four games, Bhangdia has two of the Quakers’ four goals, both of which came in wins.
Since the start of his playing career at Penn, Bhangdia has had a nose for the net. After sitting out his freshman year due to injury, he notched his first goal just 69 seconds into his first collegiate appearance a year ago. Throughout the remainder of the season, Bhangdia proved to be a consistent threat on offense, finishing second on the team in shots with 24, six of which went on target.
Bhangdia’s success has been many years in the making and is a result of his team–focused mindset and competitive nature. He started playing soccer around age four and stuck with it to this day because of how much he enjoyed playing with his friends.
“[Playing with all of my friends] is what I loved to do as a kid and it’s what I still love to do now,” Bhangdia said.
Bhangdia, who hails from central Pennsylvania, became familiar with the Quakers through multiple camp visits. It didn’t take long for him to lock in his commitment; he decided he wanted to go to Penn early in his junior year of high school.
“I knew pretty early on that Penn is where I wanted to be,” Bhangdia said. “The team’s competitive nature was very attractive to me.”
As it turns out, Penn was probably the perfect choice for Bhangdia to continue his soccer career. As a biology major, a program highly regarded at Penn, Bhangdia is considering going to medical school after graduation. Additionally, he enjoys spending a lot of time with his family, so it’s nice to stay in-state and close to home.
His main focus here at Penn, however, is his team. So far, the Quakers have experienced mixed results in their four games, but have shown flashes of a team that can compete for an Ivy League title.
“As a team, we attribute a lot of our success thus far, and hopefully continued success, to high levels of consistency,” Bhangdia said.
The Quakers won their first two non-conference games, then lost to ranked St. John’s and tied ranked Rutgers. Despite the overall bitter feeling of going home without wins in those games, Bhangdia believes the team is looking up.
“We all recognize that we could’ve [won both of those games],” Bhangdia said. “Even though the results weren’t what we hoped for going into the games, we realize that are a lot of positives to take from both of those games.”
With the start of Ivy League play just over two weeks away, it is important for the Quakers to keep up the level of consistency Bhangdia has observed this season. Even only four games in, Bhangdia feels they are prepared for what often proves to be a chaotic and emotional conference slate of games.
“I think we do feel ready,” Bhangdia said. “Guys don’t have to try as hard to get up for those games because we all realize the weight and importance of those games.”
It’s not just the non-conference action that is helping the Quakers prepare for their league opponents–Bangdhia’s feeling of readiness can also be attributed to the Red and Blue’s intense practice regimen.
“One of the things we’ve been talking about with our coaches this season is the amount of high level training sessions we can have this season is going to be directly correlated to the results that we get on the field,” Bhangdia said.
Bhangdia seems to have a deep understanding of what his team needs to do to succeed, and his goal-scoring prowess on the field will also help make the Quakers a contender for an Ivy League title.
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