You may have heard the Men’s Soccer Team is good this year. But when the buzzer sounded at Azusa Pacific’s field with the last-second, game-winning goal crossing the goal line, we all realized the number-five ranked Lions are not just good, they are great.
What began as hype in the beginning of the season has turned to fact as they consistently outplay opponents in a cool, composed manner that has become their defining style.
Even the veterans on the team have noticed that this team is something special.
“I’ve never been a part of a team that has had such a brotherhood, such a strong bond as the team we have at Vanguard. I think that’s something that is unique among college teams,” starting senior goalkeeper Trevor Herrera said. “[We have] really strong chemistry on the field and off the field,” senior Adam Holstein said. “We have a group of very different individuals and personality types from all different faiths, all different upbringings, who have come together to form a bond, and play a game that has united all of us.”
It is inspiring to see how genuinely the squad believes in Gold Pride significance. After the Azusa Pacific game ended, the Lions took a second to give thanks.
“The team felt a necessity to remember who gave us the ability to play this sport, and to be successful on the field, being humble in a time when it is easy to feel like you did it all yourself.” Herrera said.
Everyone, right down to the players who are on the bench, are coming together and understanding they have a significant role on the squad.
“Whether they play or not, getting us through the practices, being leaders on and off the field at practices and during games, I expect a lot,” senior defender Jeremy Hampton said.
Looking ahead, the next opponent is the most important. Winning one game, no matter how dramatic or crucial, isn’t the season for this team.
“The next person we play, every time is the number one opponent. [The question is] will we stick with it, will we stay humble? Or will other teams–or God–humble us?” Hampton said.
GSAC is considered to be the most difficult conference in the NAIA, and every game this season is expected to be a battle. Chemistry is always a key to a winning season, but it takes individual talent to perform as well.
“When you combine individual talent with camaraderie, you get a solid team.” Herrera said.
Individual talent is not lacking this year with the multiple-threat Lion attack topped by lightning-fast striker sophomore Kevin Cornwall, and senior Tommy “Serb” Colic, the deadly precise midfield, featuring sophomores Kyle O’Brien, and Alex Lopez, and the solid defense anchored by Herrera and Hampton, who recorded their first shutout only three games into the season.
“We’re very happy we’re here but we don’t want to let it get to our heads — We don’t want it to stop, we want it to keep going higher and I’m happy that’s everyone’s mindset. We’re not complacent with where we are, we’re happy, but we want to keep moving higher,” senior striker Adam Holstein said.
“If we play at the highest level possible that we can every game, then we’ll win — every game. I have no doubt about that,” Hampton said.
After defeating APU last Saturday, the team is ranked first in GSAC competition. The Lions continue their successful year, taking on San Diego Christian on September 29 at 6 p.m.