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September 12, 2013

Mens Soccer sets 2013 goals

After last seasons success players want
to set the bar high with no exceptions

By Brendan Samsa

GIrl's camp

The Cleveland State University men’s soccer team opened up its season last week with their sights set high. After last year’s impressive season, which saw them win the Horizon League Tournament and landed them the teams’ first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1980, the bar has been set high for this year’s team.

This season started off with a tall order for the Viking men as they went on a tumultuous three game road trip against Oregon State, and Portland that ended against -- Louisville who are ranked 7th in the nation.

After a hard-fought loss to Oregon State in the season opener, the Vikings won a double-overtime thriller with a late goal from senior Jordan Hart. But after a long road trip back from the West Coast combined with playing three games in five days the powerhouse Louisville team proved to be too much for the Vikings.

Sunday the Vikings came home to play their home opener against Marshall. Controlling the ball for much of the game followed by some timely goals, Cleveland State brought home a 2-1 victory in their first game at Krenzler Field this year, giving head coach Ali Kazemaini an impressive 27-8-1 record at Krenzler Field over the past five seasons.
Even after the tough road trip to start the year, Sunday’s win moved the team back to 2-2 on the season, making players and coaches very optimistic about the rest of the season.

Kirk Harwat, second year assistant coach, said as long as the team stays focused, good things will come. He understands every Horizon League team is gunning for them and they must work hard to stay on top.

“We opened up the season with three very difficult matches away from home,” Harwat said. “Going forward this season, it is important for us to continue to gel and find the right personnel in the right spots. We will continue to focus on our possession and attacking philosophy day in and day out.”

After such a successful season a year ago, the expectation is to perform at a high level again this year. The team has shown they are hungry and determined to take the next step this year, especially after the preseason coaches’ poll rated them as the favorite to repeat as Horizon League Champions.

Even with the bar set so high, the team doesn’t seem to feel any pressure.
“Not pressure, we just have high expectations for ourselves after a successful season last year,” said Jordan Hart, senior forward and late game hero in Portland. “Fingers crossed, we’re going to try and make it further into the (NCAA Tournament) than last year.”

The coaching staff has expressed that they are excited about the team they have put together this season. With such a good mix of returning players and new guys it will be interesting to see how they utilize the talent they have to work with.

Having made it to the NCAA Tournament last season returning players such as Admir Suljevic, Aslinn Rodas, Jordan Hart, and Zach Ellis-Hayden have gained a lot of experience they can pass on to the younger players. Accompanied by new Corners Alex Obbey who transferred from Louisville and Sergio Manesio coming over from Bromwich Albion Academy, the team has a lot of veteran talent.

“The older guys have done a great job at setting the standard high.” Harwat said. “They lead by example during training and the younger guys see it, and try to mirror it.”

Led by great coaching and veteran leadership, the Men’s Soccer team seems to have all the right tools to give Cleveland State fans another memorable season.

Heading to the Belmont Invitational this weekend, where they will play Belmont University on Friday and Lipscomb University on Sunday, the soccer team looks to continue theirquest to bring home a second Horizon League Championship.