On Sunday, Nov. 9, the men’s soccer team brought home their first Gulf South Conference win in program history. The Tigers battled the whole season to get back to the championship game, where the Tigers’ season ended in 2013 as runner-up. However, this year, the Tigers would make a comeback to win the elusive GSC Champion title.
Coming into the season, the Tigers faced tough opponents that would make them winless on the road. However, a victory against Lee University on Friday, Oct. 10, would be the pivotal point in the men’s season.
After succeeding victories, the men started looking towards the post-season where they would hope to redeem themselves after a loss in the championship game.
“Our goal was to win Regular Season and the Tournament. Motivation came from being so close in the 2013 Championship game. This pushed us on this year,” said head coach Matthew Thorne.
And the Tigers would do just that. The Tigers win over UAH on Friday, Oct. 31, gave the men a bypass to the semifinal round in the GSC tournament.
With only two games left, the Tigers would have to face UAH again in the semifinals to reach the finals, to play Shorter University, but the Chargers wouldn’t give the Tigers an easy pass.
The Chargers kept the game close, ending the match 1-1, forcing the teams into a scoreless double-overtime. In a final attempt to reveal the victor of the match, both teams would have to enter the penalty kick round. Freshman Brad Louis, would serve as the Tigers’ goalkeeper, who would later secure the win for the Tigers by saving two goals. The Tigers won the semifinals with a 6-5 score.
Finally, after a long season, and a tough battle with UAH, the Tigers would take on Shorter for the GSC Championship title. Energized from their double win over UAH, the Tigers would secure the title with a 3-1 victory.
Senior Thibault Charmey became the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, with his two goals, while seniors Vitor Gazza, Traye Torrance, and Emmanuel Mondestin earned All-Tournament honors. Senior Evan Beutler would join Charmey with a goal of his own in minute 49.
Coach Thorne, elated from the huge win said, “This is an amazing achievement. Three years ago we didn’t even have a men’s program. We went out and we showed great character. We dug down deep after some adversity in the second half and just continued a quality team performance. I am so proud of these guys and the send off we were able to give our seniors. We now have a great base to build off for many years to come.”
Thorne believed the teamwork, hard work, and experience of players that have played together for three years was a huge factor of the victory. He looks forward to keep pushing on and to compete and win GSC next season and make Nationals.
Senior Vitor Gazza also believed the bonds between the team was the cause of the win: “The main factor that helped us win the GSC championship was the friendship factor. We have many players that have been playing 3 years together, and we built a strong friendship between us. Coach did a great job on recruiting, because we knew many of the freshmen, which is good to play with people you already know. This year, I can say that we didn’t play like just a team, we played like a family. [For me] as an international student-athlete, the team became my family. We respect each other inside and outside the field, and that helped us as well, because no matter what happens, you know you will have 27 brothers that will support you. I just want to say a huge thanks to our coach Matthew Thorne that believed in us and made us believe in ourselves. So definitely the friendship that we created during the three years had the biggest impact this season.”
Though the Tigers season came to a close on Sunday, they look forward to next season to win another GSC Championship and qualify for Nationals.