Central Michigan soccer coach Jeremy Groves addresses postgame comments, holds team meeting

Central Michigan soccer coach Jeremy Groves is in his first season with the Chippewas. (Photo: CMU Athletics)

Central Michigan soccer coach Jeremy Groves addressed his controversial postgame comments during his media availability Tuesday afternoon. 

The comments came after a 1-0 loss to Akron on Sunday afternoon. Below is his opening statement following the loss:

"Not good. Didn't show up, didn't perform, didn't try. A lot of thoughts that aren't very good right now. I mean, we've talked about it, and this is like the third or fourth week where we've tried a different approach. I don't understand why we're not getting a performance from people, you know? The first half was probably the worst spectacle I've seen on a soccer field in however long I've been doing this, as a player and a coach. It's just so disappointing, how we have young women who don't want to show up and don't want to try and don't want to try and win when we were in such a great position before the game."

The loss on Sunday dropped the Chippewas to 7-4-4. Since starting the season at 5-0-2, they are just 2-4-2 in their last eight games. In that span, they have struggled mightily on offense, scoring three goals in just one game while being shutout three times, including each of their past two contests. 

When asked specifically about his team's struggling offense he would say the following:

"You guys have seen it. On Thursday night we had three great opportunities. Today we had a bunch of great opportunities. We have no desire, the girls have no desire to score goals. I'm not gonna stand here and defend them. We go over stuff in training, you know, for the past month all we've done is finish, finish, finish, finish, but you know we had some people in there who were a little tougher than us and wanted the ball. They wanted it more than us and that's kinda what it boils down to. They wanted to win more than us. You can tell. We didn't want to win."

His comments incited backlash from fans and supporters, as many were appalled that he would speak like that about his team. Some even called for his firing.

On Tuesday afternoon, Groves admitted that the comments came out of frustration.

"The things I said on Sunday after the game were out of frustration, kind of an accumulation that has been building over the past couple of weeks," Groves said.

"The frustrations, for me, are the fact that the team has so much potential, which we've shown over the early part of the season. Not reaching that over the past few games is why I was frustrated. I was disappointed on my part on how I said those things."

The Chippewas' 5-0-2 start was highlighted by a road win in Lexington, Kentucky against Groves' alma mater Kentucky in which freshman forward Lauren DeBeau netted the game-winning corner kick. Since then, DeBeau has struggled and found the net just twice while being tied for the team lead in shots with 46. 

Defensively the Chippewas have been very good, allowing just 12 goals throughout the season. Senior goalkeeper Zoie Reed has six shutouts on the year. Being a relatively young team, one with just three active seniors, the fast start to the year paired with the solid defensive effort shows just how much potential Groves has on his team.

But the struggles offensively have overshadowed the success defensively. 

He also held a team meeting Monday in which he apologized to his team.

"I had a team meeting yesterday with the girls and apologized, and I explained my frustrations of why, maybe, I said those things, and then I opened up for them to ask me questions," Groves said.

Groves felt like his players understood where he was coming from once he had a chance to explain himself. Again, he wants to be successful – just like he was at Murray State.

"I think it was a really good and positive meeting," Groves added.

Groves is in his first season with Central Michigan. Before spending last season as a volunteer assistant at Kentucky, he spent the previous four seasons at Murray State. 

While with the Racers, he compiled a record of 50-21-6, highlighted by a span from 2015-17 in which his teams were undefeated in the Ohio Valley Conference.

"I've said since day one that I wanna come here and be successful," Groves said. "Once I explained my side of it and why I said those things and go back to talking about the potential of this team and how we've reached heights this season I think they kind of understand."

He added that the team still has a goal to win the Mid-American Conference. 

Currently, the Chippewas sit in seventh place in the Mid-American Conference standings. The top eight teams qualify for the postseason tournament, with the top four earning home-field advantage for the first round. 

If the Chippewas win their season finale, they could jump up as high as fourth place, but a loss could kick them out of the tournament.

Groves and his team will take the field at home for their final regular-season game at 3 p.m. Thursday against Eastern Michigan.