by Joshua Woolverton
A new school year brings a new season for the Cedarville men’s soccer team. This year the team brings more maturity and experience to the table as they plan to win the G-MAC this year and improve on their 12-8-3 record from last year.
“We had a lot of young guys play a lot of minutes last year,” head coach Brett Faro said. “Now we have these guys back that are stronger and more experienced than last year.”
Faro expects his team to do all the little things this year to make sure they are the best team they can be.
“Our focus is always to try to be the best version of this group that we can be,” Faro said. “I expect these guys to do everything they can in each week, game or practice to get better.”
Faro said he is happy with the incoming freshmen and that they all have potential to play well this year. He thinks that they will each fit in on the team but he is not sure how big of a role they will play.
“All the freshmen are a good fit for what we want from them, but it is too early to know who will step into a big role and play a lot of minutes this year,” Faro said.
Last year, Cedarville finished as the runner-up in the G-MAC, losing to Alderson Broaddus in the conference final. The juniors that went through this loss now lead the team and give it direction. People across the board have stepped into leadership roles on the team both on and off the field.
“We have a rising class of seniors on this team that give us good leadership and maturity,” Faro said. “We lost in the conference final last year but they want to leave a good legacy this year as they head out.”
However, it may be harder to win the conference this year because of the rise in competition levels. Hillsdale College, Lake Erie College, Ohio Dominican University, University of Findlay and Walsh University have all been added to the G-MAC.
The added teams to the conference changes the schedules for games. Now each conference opponent will only face each other one time in the regular season. This makes each game against a conference opponent even more important.
Last year, Cedarville played Alderson Broaddus three times. This year, teams will not be as familiar with each other as they were last year because there is only one meeting between them in the regular season.
The added teams also changed the number of times Cedarville will play out-of-conference games. Cedarville only has three out-of-conference games on its schedule this year against Bellarmine, Indianapolis and California (Pa.).
“I think adding these teams is exciting,” Faro said. “It will spark both new and old rivalries and make the standings a lot closer which puts a lot more pressure on our conference games.”
The postseason format will also change to accommodate the larger conference. The G-MAC tournament will expand this year to allow eight teams in the tournament rather than six. Faro said that he thinks there will be a lot of jockeying for position in this tournament in order to gain home-field advantage and to take the best route to the finals.
“We have a case where I think the eighth-seeded team could be just as good as the first seed in this tournament,” Faro said. “The big thing is that we just make the playoffs because anything can happen there.”
There is even more pressure on teams to win the conference this year than in years previous. For the first time, the winner of the G-MAC gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II tournament.
With all the excitement about the conference, Faro said he thinks it is important that the team remember its ultimate goal of the season.
“Our aim is always to show how we steward what talents we were given and to show how the Gospel influences how we play and how we interact with each other and others around us,” Faro said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
Josh Woolverton is a junior journalism major and sports reporter for Cedars. He hopes to get involved in sports reporting and analysis after graduation and enjoys watching sports, running, and spending time with friends.