Club soccer goes for unbeaten season

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Club soccer goes for unbeaten season

The club soccer team shows their tight bond and spirit by huddling for a pep and strategy talk.

The club soccer team shows their tight bond and spirit by huddling for a pep and strategy talk.

Henry Bendon

The club soccer team shows their tight bond and spirit by huddling for a pep and strategy talk.

Henry Bendon

Henry Bendon

The club soccer team shows their tight bond and spirit by huddling for a pep and strategy talk.

Henry Bendon, Staff Reporter

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When Case Western Reserve University club soccer heads to Cincinnati this weekend, they will do so seeking a goal that seemed unlikely at the beginning of the season and near impossible when they joined the Midwest Alliance Soccer Conference (MASC) three years ago—they’ll be playing for an unbeaten season. Going into their 10th game, club soccer is 6-0-3 in a conference that includes heavyweights like The Ohio State University and does not include any other schools with undergraduate populations under 10,000 students.

They’ll also be doing so short-handed, since they lost starting striker and president Gareth May to a broken wrist early on in the season. Fourth-year attacking midfielder Alexander West, tasked to be May’s replacement, suffered a non-contact hamstring injury in CWRU’s 2-0 victory over Bowling Green State University (BGSU) that will see him sidelined for the final regular season game. 

Injuries aside, this year has been a serious success for the club soccer program. The team’s unbeaten record and position at the top of the MASC Ohio table means they’ll be playing playoff soccer, which requires travelling to Westfield, Indiana on Oct. 26 and 27 to take on the other qualifiers in the Midwest regional. CWRU currently stands second in the power rankings for the Midwest region.

The success of the team comes from a number of factors. Years of interest in the program has made club soccer one of the most consistently dominant forces in non-varsity athletics at CWRU, and this year, the team has a number of important pieces from across the student body. One of the newest developments is the rise of the team’s captain and coach, fourth-year Conan Cekola. In the past, Cekolah has served as a player coach, but this season has seen him take a step away from being a player and a step toward coaching. 

Against BGSU last week, he took the coaching side of his persona to a new level, dressing in a full suit like a Premier League manager and playing himself for no minutes. “We just have a bunch of great players and every game we try to get equal minutes,” said Cekola.

His players are also appreciative of the changes his coaching presence has provided. “Conan’s got some really unique ideas,” said fourth-year Casey Intrator after the BGSU game. “At the end of the day, he’s got a great mind for soccer, and we really appreciate the tactics he’s brought.” 

Intrator is himself coming off of a long series of injuries that have made this season his first full one in over seven years, and has cemented himself as a critical part of the team’s midfield. He’s very familiar with the devastating power of injuries to a player and a team, but this year he’s not worried. In fact, he says the team is just coming into form.