by Abigail Hintz
The Cedarville men’s soccer team (9-4-2) snatched a win over Alderson Broaddus University (5-8-2) in a high-stakes G-MAC clash on Cystic Fibrosis night Saturday. The match ended 2-1 in favor of the Jackets, extending their unbeaten streak to seven and their win streak to three.
But perhaps outshining the play on the pitch was 7-year-old Nicholas Grindstaff.
Nicholas suffers from cystic fibrosis, and was the reason fans were asked for donations during the match. The team signed Nicholas to the roster in late September, and Saturday he was on the bench wearing a penny and all. He was also named honorary captain of the team and their 12th man in the starting lineup.
Nicholas watched and cheered alongside his teammates, and high-fived each one that came off the pitch. His joy was evident and the impact he has on them is even clearer. Cedarville goalkeeper Carter Selvius called Nicholas a moral booster, saying, “He always helps me warm up for the game. It’s just good to have him around.”
On the pitch, the two teams were very back and forth, but both were also very aggressive. The Jackets struck early when freshman defender Jonny Stephens got a head on an inswinging corner from Conner Hughes to snatch his first goal of the season.
Selvius, two time G-MAC Defensive Player of the Week, had to show up in a big way shortly after his team’s goal. It was his only save of the night, a testament to his back line.
“My defense kept it clean the entire second half, so all props to them,” said Selvius.
His save was quickly forgotten however, as the keeper made an uncharacteristic mistake. Selvius mishit a clearance that landed at the feet of the Battler’s Agostino Greco, who then put the ball in the back of the wide open net.
The half ended in a tie, which seemed appropriate as the teams seemed very even, especially after the Battlers’ goal. Cedarville came out of halftime with a new energy, with three corner kicks in the first eight minutes before freshman midfielder Sammy Kilimann got his fourth goal of the season, three of which were game winners. The goal came from Cole Butaud taking it wide before cutting back to Kilimann who sent it far post.
With the postseason quickly approaching, neither team gave up at the end of the match. The Jackets came into the game at third place in the G-MAC, but Saturday’s win pushed them to second with the help of some other league results.
The final whistle was a breath of relief for the Jackets and a sound of defeat for the Battlers, many of whom were seen lying on the pitch afterwards in frustration.
Head coach Brett Faro was happy with his team’s play, despite the fact that they knew it would be a harder match then when they first played Alderson Broaddus.
“I thought our guys did a good job staying composed and finding ways to score goals. Again, it needed to be a gutty performance against a good team,” said Faro.
The Jackets only have one regular season home game left, which will be on October 23 at 4:30. Until then, there is plenty left to be decided as the team continues their G-MAC play and hopes to stay where they are in the standings, making it into the tournament. Tonight, however, was about Nicholas, who helped take his team to victory.