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September 16, 2013

Vikings begin new season with young roster

By Kevin Alquist

Hesham Hammouda. CSU men's soccer.After an undefeated start to the 2014 season (2-0), the Cleveland State University men’s soccer team went on the road to North Carolina, where they fell to North Carolina State University by a score of 4-0 and at Wake Forest University by a score of 4-1.

The Vikings hope to improve after a 2013 season that ended with an 8-12 record and return to the Conference Tournament for the first time since 2012, where they were tournament champions.

With only one returning senior, mid-fielder and Cleveland native, Mike Derezic, the focus this year is to gain continuity among the young players and evaluate the talent that new players provide, head coach Ali Kazemaini explained.

“We rotated the entire squad on the field during the exhibition games to get these guys as much experience as possible,” Kazemaini said. “We are excited about the young guys and we hope to build a championship team.”

Despite the bulk of the team being underclassmen, Kazemaini said, leadership from the upperclassmen and equal contribution from everyone on the field is crucial to the team’s success this season.

“It’s a very young team and the leadership of our seniors is crucial,” Kazemaini said. “[defensive Freshman] Sergio Manesio and Derezic are key players for us. They are the glue, but we need everyone to play to their potential for this season to be a success.”

With upcoming matches against teams like Sacramento State University, the University of Cincinnati, and Wright State University, Kazemaini said the team should feel very privileged to compete with such quality athletic programs.

“It’s not often that these kids get to play against these kinds of programs,” Kazemaini said. “It speaks to our program that we have the opportunity to compete with them.”

While many of the players are native to Northeast Ohio, countries such as England, France, Serbia, Egypt, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Colombia are represented on the roster.

“We hang our hats on getting players from all walks of life,” Kazemaini said.