The men’s club soccer team took major strides this year with increased participation and the addition of a spring season.
The spring season has fewer games but more practice time to prepare for the fall.
The club’s members have boosted their commitment to the team in the spring and the results have shown, said Eli Santow, a junior from Chicago studying sports administration.
“I think coming into the fall, some of us were a little iffy about whether we wanted to be truly committed to the team, and to function at this level you need committed players out there,” he said. “It’s great to see some of the players giving it their all and going that extra yard to make sure the team is on pace for what we need to be doing next season.”
Men’s soccer club president Jared Rosine, a senior from Strasburg studying history and political science, said the turnout for this year’s team was the largest in recent memory, as more than 100 players tried out.
Thirty of those players were selected to be on the team, he said.
Rosine said the competition was stiff at tryouts because many of the players have extensive experience playing soccer.
“Most of these guys have college experience or a high level of high school play,” he said. “A few guys have actually been on professional teams at one time or another. There’s definitely an increased level of play.”
Paired with the influx of talent to choose from, Rosine said he tried to make sure the players selected for the team could perform well as a group.
“When you’re building a team, it’s not necessarily based on the best players; it’s about building the best unit,” he said. “You want to have a certain cohesion about your group. Sometimes we have to cut players that might be better than others but don’t have the same commitment level or abilities as other players.”
Josef Kall, a junior exchange student from Sweden studying business, said club ball is nothing new to him, because he has been playing soccer since age 5 and plays on a club team in his home country.
“We don’t play for our school like you guys do over here,” he said. “If you want to play soccer, you have to play club.”
Rosine said the spring season is mostly to prepare the team for the fall, when the club competes in the Midwest Alliance Soccer Conference. The top three teams of the conference’s 11 advance to a district tournament at the end of the year, and if they continue to win, they advance to the national tournament.
The team got a taste of some top-notch talent April 21 and 22 when it competed in a tournament in Champaign held by the University of Illinois.
SIU had matches against the U of I, Illinois State and Wheaton College. Rosine said the team’s tournament record of 0-2-1 doesn’t show how well it played during the weekend.
“Most of the teams that were there were premier club teams that always make nationals,” he said. “A culmination of injuries and bad luck led to the finish that we had.”