As we enter the winter season, Casady Men’s Soccer faces high expectations. After a highly successful season last year, in which they placed second in the SPC tournament, the best finish since winning the tournament in 2007, the team has even higher aspirations. With a total of 44 players, more than any other sport, head coach Chris Halpern and assistant coaches Hugo Rhoads, Carey Joullian (’78), and Christ Jefferey (’07) expect a season of hard work and progress, trying to combine the raw talent of individual players into a cohesive and unstoppable team.
The team has a balance of veteran and young talent, with members of every grade on the starting lineup. Additionally, the team has four sets of brothers, two of which start. Returning players to watch are Jose Alberola (’19), Heath Stanfield (’20), Yair Rojo (’20), and Yael Rojo (’20). New players to watch are Luke Foster (’20), Luis Lopez (’22), Alex Angeles (’22), and Jess Stanfield (’22). Yair, Yael, Heath, Luke, Luis, Alex, and Jess were players on Oklahoma soccer teams (U17 and U15 respectively) that made it to the semifinals at the US Youth Soccer National Championships.
Colton Anglin (’19), Omar Gillan (’19) and Jose Alberola (’19) are the returning varsity seniors, though this year, the team has a total of 11 seniors–more than ever before. Preston Parsons (’19) said he decided to play because “it was one of [his] last opportunities to join a team sport, and [he] wanted to try something different,” adding on that he still “had a case of FIFA fever” after getting into the World Cup this summer.
The goal of the team this year is to make the SPC tournament, ranked first or second seed. Secondary goals are then to win the first game at the tournament, and ultimately make it to the championship. According to Coach Halpern, these goals don’t fluctuate year-to-year, but remain consistent. After their showing at last year’s SPC, the team made it apparent that they had the talent and ability to compete at a high level, and that CMS was perhaps entering a period of success and high-level play that will continue in future seasons. The effects on the team were both internal and external, remarked Halpern, in that not only the fans, but the team itself, believed “we can do this, and if we work hard, we can compete for a championship.”
With unprecedented raw talent and a streak of success to maintain, the Casady Men’s Soccer team promises a season of both advanced and entertaining play. According to Halpern, the effects of the students’ support is both tangible and effective for the players: “It definitely makes a difference whether we look over and see 10 people in the stands or 100 people in the stands. When the fans are cheering and getting involved with the game, it definitely takes up the emotional side of the players.” With that said, be sure to stop by and support our soccer cyclones this season!