By Alvin Halimwidjaya
With Fordham Men’s Soccer facing St. Francis Brooklyn at home in an NCAA tournament game on Thursday, The Fordham Ram sat down with senior forward Jannik Loebe. A critical cog in the Rams’ offense, Loebe has scored 22 goals over four years for Fordham, including nine game-winners.
TFR: When did you first start playing soccer?
JL: I think the first years of my life, I just played for fun. The first time in my life I really joined a club was when I was eight or nine years old. Since that day, I’ve always been on a team and practiced as I grew up.
TFR: Did you go to training camps or academies?
JL: I played for academies in Germany, but the system is different there, since they don’t really have high school soccer, so I’ve always played in academies before I came to America.
TFR: How do you think the academy system benefited you in your development as a player?
JL: I think in Germany it’s pretty good because you have a lot of practice and obviously there are many more people playing soccer, so the quality is just higher. Also, I think the focus is more towards the technical skills and play style, which is good for me because you just become a better footballer. Here [in America], it’s more about becoming stronger and running a lot, but there isn’t as much of a focus about technique.
TFR: Why did you choose Fordham?
JL: I had felt really good about the coach; I had a lot of good talks with him. Then obviously the scholarship, [Fordham] was D1, it was in New York, so there’s not a lot to complain about for me.
TFR: Since you came to Fordham in 2014, you guys have won two A-10 championships in 3 years. What has it been like to be part of building a winning culture for the Rams?
JL: For us it’s great; it’s a little unfortunate that it’s coming to an end right now, but it’s great that my class had such a huge impact on developing the entire program. I think the year before, they didn’t even make the conference tournament, and then within three years, to become maybe the top team in the league, it’s always great to be part of something like that.
TFR: What do you think is the strongest part of your game? What is one area that you’re trying to improve in?
JL: The strongest part of my game is obviously the attacking part of my game, like dribbling and taking guys on with speed and stuff, and I think the negative part [of my game] is more the defensive work, the 1v1 defending, I think I have to work on that.
TFR: How does playing alongside your brother (Janos Loebe) help your approach to the game as an attacker?
JL: For me, it’s great, because especially in my first year, I was an attacking player, but I didn’t really have a lot of players to play with. I don’t want to offend the other players, but my brother and I, we have good communication and we’ve always played together throughout our entire career, so it’s always great. He’s obviously also a great player as well, and our understanding on the pitch is great, so we’re always looking for each other, and it’s great to have him on the team.
TFR: You’ve had nine game winning goals over the course of your career. How do you deal with the pressure in those kinds of situations?
JL: I don’t really think about it that much; it’s not like I feel that pressure in the moment. I think that might be one of my strengths; I like to have the pressure from outside in these bigger games, to play in these games and try to make an impact. I don’t have to be the one who’s scoring the goals; sometimes it happens because I’m an attacking player, so obviously sometimes I’m the one who’s scoring, but I just try to make an impact and lead my team to win the game, especially the bigger games, and luckily it works out sometimes.
TFR: What can people usually find you doing off the field? What do you like to do in your spare time?
JL: I’m still in college, so I guess I’m in class, but most of the time I’ll just be hanging out with the boys. Maybe in my room, playing some video games together, or I’ll go to the city with my brother when the weather’s nice.
TFR: What are your plans after you graduate?
JL: I want to wait after the season to really talk to the coaches. I played last summer in Canada with the [New York] Red Bulls, so I have some people I know, so I just want to talk to them afterwards and see what my opportunities are to keep playing soccer after college. But also, I still have to graduate, I still have my masters, so if there’s nothing really great, I might just stay here and finish my masters.
TFR: Are you considering playing overseas at all?
JL: I think right now, definitely the MLS [first], just because I’m here, and I think people here know me better than Germany right now because I haven’t been there for four years. Obviously, if I was given the choice in the long run, I would prefer to go to Europe again because the entire soccer culture is much bigger and more enthusiastic there, and I just think it would be a lot more fun to play there than here.
TFR: As a senior, what advice would you have for the freshmen just coming into the program?
JL: I think it’s really hard for freshmen here, because some are already starting and have a great impact on the team, while others aren’t even traveling, which is hard, especially in college. I think they just have to keep going; no one would be mad if they quit or say ‘there’s nothing for me here’, but in general I would say to just keep working hard. We have so many guys over the years who didn’t play their first or second year, and now they’re starters on our team, so if they just keep improving and working, they will get their chances and time on the pitch.
TFR: Is there a particularly memorable moment that stands out to you over your time playing soccer at Fordham?
JL: I think all the big games we won are great memories. In my freshman year, winning the title was huge for us because no one expected us to win it. Also last year, with the PK shootout, that was really close. Even some games like the Dayton game last week, we were right on the edge, and we knew if we lost [that game], we might not even get the NCAA bid and we would be out of the conference tournament, so that game was huge.