QUINCY -- If first impressions turn into prevailing opinions, the Quincy University men's soccer team should be in the Great Lakes Valley Conference championship chase.
Of course, Hawks coach Mike Carpenter found plenty of places to tighten up or tweak during Friday night's 2-1 exhibition victory over Culver-Stockton College at Legends Stadium, but the overall picture of what the Hawks are and what they could become allowed him to carry some positive vibes into next week.
All of that was after just two days of training.
"We'll be able to figure some things out with more training sessions where the coaches can get in and work with us," senior midfielder Cooper Reis said. "Overall, I like the intensity and I like the effort from everyone."
When he says everyone, he means everyone.
The Hawks played 20 players Friday night, liberally subbing throughout both halves and seeing younger players emerge with the ability to fill almost any void.
"Injuries will occur and potential card suspensions, so there is no substitute for depth," said Carpenter, who will take his team Tuesday to Marshall, Mo., for an exhibition against Missouri
Valley College. "So it's a real positive, and it brings an extra competitive desire to training. Guys are fighting for minutes. The first 11 are looking over their shoulder the entire time. It's just going to bring the best out of each other."
Carpenter has no immediate to limit or lengthen his bench. It's going to be based on performance.
"If it works and you have quality in the group, whether it's 14 players or 20 players or whatever in between, that's what you go with," Carpenter said. "There just has to be a consistent level of quality."
That level was pretty good.
Junior forward Tony Christante outhustled and outmuscled a C-SC defender for possession moving into the box, drawing Wildcats keeper Nicholas Luciani off the line and tucking away the shot for a 1-0 lead.
Redshirt sophomore midfielder Anthony Binaei made it 2-0 midway later in the first half when his low liner from just outside the penalty area beat Luciani to his left. The Hawks continued to pepper the goal but never added to the lead.
"We have to take from this if you're on top of the game, especially against the best competition, if you don't capitalize and you don't score, you leave yourself vulnerable to disappointment," Carpenter said. "You have to finish. In this sport more than any other sport, you'll be punished for it if you don't."
The Wildcats, who were playing their second exhibition game ahead of next Saturday's season opener, turned a defensive miscue by the Hawks into a goal by Javier Todtenbier-Magallon. It was the kind of resiliency C-SC coach Blake Ordell hoped to see.
"It's something you can't necessarily teach," Ordell said. "It has to come from an inner desire."
Couple that with the way the Wildcats moved the ball and recovered defensively and they appear ready for a rugged slate of games.
"We have a really talented squad that is starting to get some chemistry moving the ball really well together," Ordell said. "We can keep becoming more fit, and that's going to be key as we get later into games so we can keep going at the pace we get going at times."