*This article was originally published by the Loyola Phoenix.*
No, that’s not Paul Pogba or Cam Newton dabbing on Hoyne Field after another goal by the Loyola men’s soccer team (12-1-1, 5-0-1). It’s junior midfielder Brody Kraussel, whose play on the wing this season has helped the men’s soccer team climb to No. 11 in the country and the top of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) standings.
Kraussel’s nine assists this season have him tied for second in Division I men’s soccer, and they’re one reason why the Ramblers expect to make some noise at the NCAA tournament in November.
Higher expectations for the team also bring extra pressure, but the business marketing major said he is doing his part to ensure the Ramblers stay loose on and off the field.
“I like to keep a fun feel in the locker room. I think everyone knows we are a good team and we all want to live up to how good we are, and it’s kind of been showing this season,” said Kraussel. “I feel like people might get too amped up before games. So, if my teammates see me messing around a bit before games, they can feed off my relaxed state. ”
That’s where the Dab comes in. The Dab is a dance move usually performed after a great play that has been popularized by athletes including Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
“I’ve been known to dance in the locker room before or after games. Dabbing is definitely one of my best moves,” said Kraussel. “I just like to bring that carefree energy and make it feel like it’s just a regular training session.”
The Milwaukee native has quietly assumed a larger leadership role in his third year on the team. Senior right back Kirill Likhovid said he has noticed Kraussel motivating teammates during practice more this season than in past years.
“Every practice, there are one or two guys who keep the intensity going, and Brody has been taking that role recently,” said Likhovid. “Sometimes, everyone is sluggish and tired, and you’ll see Brody edging everybody on.”
Kraussel and Likhovid are three seasons into their partnership on the right side. Kraussel is extremely likable and has great chemistry with his teammates, according to Likhovid. The winger’s connection with his teammates, and the team’s newfound attacking mindset, has helped Kraussel reach new levels of performance, Likhovid said.
“He’s improved a lot in his one-versus-one play and his service has gotten better this year, but I think it’s also a result of our whole team playing better and attacking more,” Likhovid said. “It allows him more freedom to take his man on, and he’s getting the ball in attacking positions.”
Kraussel attributed his stellar play to the support he receives from his parents, who were also college athletes. He said sports are an easy way to bond with his family, who regularly attends home games and tailgates.
“I’m definitely blessed to have my parents at every home game,” Kraussel said. “My mom and dad are really involved and have really bought into the Rambler culture and soccer team since I’ve been here.”
While Kraussel said the assists and attention he receives feel great, he is focused on the team’s continued success and ensuring it reaches its full potential.
“It feels great to be one of the assist leaders, but I don’t really focus on the stats much,” said Kraussel. “My overall goal is to win games. The most important goal right now is to win the MVC and do well in the NCAA Tournament.”
Kraussel and the Loyola men’s soccer team are scheduled to face off against Northwestern University on Oct. 26.