Men’s club soccer finishes regular season undefeated

By Ryne Nelson

The men’s club soccer team may not be a University-sanctioned varsity team, and it may not be allowed to participate in the national tournament, but it has not been forgotten this season.

Finishing its season with an overall record of 16-0-4, the men’s soccer team compiled its first ever undefeated season in school history.

“Look at any level of sports; you don’t see a lot of teams just beating everybody,” said senior forward Tyson Masar, who lead the team in goals and assists.

The team traveled to Indiana’s Karst Farm Park on Oct. 30 to play in its final tournament of the year, the Midwest Alliance Soccer Conference (MASC) tournament. The tournament issues four bids to the National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association (NIRSA) National Soccer Championship tournament in Austin, Texas.

Originally one of the favorites to win the MASC tournament, the squad came out with two ties and failed to advance to the semifinals. Players cited several factors that contributed to the squad’s disappointing finish.

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“Because of the rain, the property owner made us shorten all of the games to 30-minute halves,” freshman goalie Brian Summerville said.

Games were cut 20 minutes short because of poor weather and possible damage to the fields.

“If the games were longer, I think all of us believe that we would’ve came up with a victory,” said coach and senior in business Dan Malloy.

Weather and shorter games aside, players agree that their inability to finish led to their quick exit from the tournament.

“In both games, we dominated,” Malloy said. “Giving up a goal in each game was more of a mental lapse. And it was mostly our finishing – being able to score was probably the biggest problem.”

Although they were the top team going into the tournament, the squad was placed in a bracket of six of the top seven seeded teams in the NIRSA power rankings.

In its very first match of the tournament, the team battled Western Michigan, who advanced to the NIRSA National Tournament.

“That was kind of a hit on us,” Summerville said. “(Tournament organizers) were just trying to get rid of us – make us play a good team right away, try to get us out of there.”

Despite their disappointing end to the season, players are still happy with their undefeated year.

“Because regionals was our last tournament of the year, I think that’s what made us a little more disappointed,” Malloy said. “But, overall, everyone was happy with the season. Everyone thought it was definitely a success.”

After its run to the national championship last season, the squad lost about 10 players and had to acquire a lot of new players. This year, the team graduates only two players – midfielder Keith Hormel and Masar.

“Next year, it’s pretty much going to be the same team, and everybody’s going to be back,” Summerville said. “They’re going to be working twice as hard because next year, we’ll have a chance to go to Nationals.”

And, next year’s squad looks to have great depth in the roster, Malloy said.

“We got to play a lot more guys this year, so we really developed our bench,” he said. “Knowing that we couldn’t go to Nationals because of last year, I played more people so that for next year, we would be better off.”

However, the loss of Hormel and Masar will not go forgotten.

“Their leadership as well as their experience is definitely going to be lost,” Malloy said.

Illinois won’t be finishing among the top six in the nation for the first time in five years, but opponents should not overlook the team come next season.

“Returning all those players, it’s going to be an exciting year next year,” said Malloy. “And we’re excited to take over the trophy once again.”