By Drew Chaltry
Each summer, athletes return to campus with new goals and expectations for the season, and each fall, as the seasons begin, every athlete realizes that nothing goes exactly as he or she planned.
MVNU’s men’s soccer team entered this year’s season with high hopes and some lofty expectations. The first year for the Cougars in the Mid- Central College Conference, 2011, was a roller coaster of a season, beginning the year at 4-1 and finishing with a 7-11- 1 record (3-6 in conference).
At one point, the team went over a month without winning a match. Coming off the somewhat disappointing sea- son, the team is reloaded and ready to make its mark on the newly renamed Crossroads League.
Men’s head soccer coach Andrew Belleman has his own expectations for this year’s sea- son.
According to Dave Parsons, the Sports Information Director at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Belleman said, “As a team, we are really looking forward to putting last year behind us and enjoying the game again. We are looking forward to playing a positive brand of soccer. Our goals as a team this year are to take one match at a time, give full effort and focus on each match, and let the rest fall into place.”
The team signed several star recruits in the offseason, including two-time state cham- pion Preston Spurrier, a stand- out from St. Ignacius High School (Cleveland) and Madison High School (Mansfield) goalkeeper Nick Nadler.
In addition to the promising freshmen, the Cougars also boast five returning seniors this year and a squad of expe- rienced players who have a year of MCC games under their belts. “We all have big expectations for the season,” said Josh Selle, a sophomore forward currently in his sec- ond year on the team. “We’re in a competitive conference, but we’re a competitive team, and we expect to go far this season.”
With a 5-3-1 start, perhaps if this is the Cougars’ year to do some damage in a highly competitive conference.
The team made an impressive run in the middle of September with four consecu- tive shutouts to cap off its non-conference schedule.
But with strong teams like Grace and Taylor, who were a goal away from winning last year’s NAIA championship match, the team will be hard pressed to keep up in this power conference.
The Cougars will finish out their home conference sched- ule against Marian on Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.