by Josh Decker
Coming off a successful 2019-2020 regular season, the Cedarville men’s soccer team is focused on improving and having continued success in the 2020-2021 campaign. The long-awaited start of the season is a welcome sight after the fall season was cancelled and pushed to the spring due to COVID-19.
Cedarville finished last season with an overall record of 12-3-8, and a 9-3-2 Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) finish that was good enough to secure third place in the conference. Last year’s squad finished runner up in the conference tournament, and made a postseason push to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament.
The team is now hungry for more as they come into the year ranked No. 1 in the G-MAC Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Jackets will play an abbreviated nine-game season this year, with the opener scheduled for March 13th at Walsh, and the first home match set for March 20th against Ohio Dominican.The Jackets lost a couple key players who graduated, including starting goalkeeper Carter Selvius, defender Zac Muir, and defender T.J. Milby. The roster is still loaded with talent, however.
Players returning this year for Cedarville include junior Sammy Kilimann, who led the team in goals last season with eight, senior Gui Fernandes, who scored seven goals for the Yellow Jackets, and junior defender Jonny Stephens.
“We have a good core of guys who returned from a very successful 2019 season, and we are hoping to continue to build throughout the spring season,” said head coach Brett Faro.
Faro did say the team is not dwelling on the No. 1 preseason ranking, however.
“I honestly don’t put any stock in it,” said Faro, who is entering his eighth season at the head of the program. “Ultimately, games are won on the field, not in a coaches’ poll. We know we need to work hard and continue to improve to make our team as good as it possibly can be.”
With the season getting moved to the spring semester this year, it has been well over a year since the Jackets’ suited up for a meaningful game. The excitement to finally play is certainly on the minds of the players and coaches alike.
“After a year of training, keeping up our motivation has been hard because you have no games to have it pay off,” remarked Stephens. “Being able to play and put what we’ve been doing in training into an actual game is exciting.”
The team has high expectations and goals for this year, and as defender Stephen Bailey noted, the squad’s aspirations include a conference tournament title.
“The ultimate goal for this season is to win the G-MAC,” the senior defender stated. “I have been a part of a number of very good teams since coming to Cedarville in 2017, but we have not won the conference yet.”
Stephens echoed his fellow defender. “Being able to get back to the G-MAC championship game is a big goal of ours.”
“Our aim is to make the most of each opportunity and honor the Lord in how we go about that,” said Faro.
Cedarville was able to take on Dayton in an exhibition match on Feb. 27 in which they fell 2-6 against a quality Dayton side. But to get some points on the board is a good sign for the Jackets.
The season opener on March 13 is scheduled to kick-off at 5:00 p.m. as Cedarville begins its quest to win a conference championship. The team’s home opener is March 20 against Ohio Dominican University at 5:00 p.m.
Josh Decker is a junior Sport Business Management major, and a sports reporter for Cedars. He loves playing sports with friends, and spends much of his free time as a student assistant for the Cedarville men’s basketball team.