On Tuesday, October 16th, the men's soccer team fell to Chesapeake College 2-0. Both goals were scored by Chesapeake's Caleb Tullous and assisted by Cody Mesias. 10 of Chesapeake's 14 shots were on net, with both goals scored in the first half. 14 of the Hawk's 22 shots were on net, and Sophomore Goalie Hunter Vanzandt had 13 saves on 15 shots.
The Hawks finished their season 1-10, earning their only win in the third game of the season in a 1-0 score against Cecil College. With all but three members of the team playing collegiate soccer for the first time, the Hawks were able to show steady growth throughout the season. While the scores may not show it, the Hawks were able to improve every time they stepped on the field. In the beginning of the season, there were games where the Hawks had very little time of possession on the offensive side of the ball. As the season progressed, they were able to gain more time of possession on offense and have a stable defensive effort by the end of the year.
A benefit of having a team that is a majority freshman is that they can build off the results of this season into next year. In order to improve for next year, Hawks Head Coach Jake Shelton will implement an offseason exercise program that will allow the returning players to increase their strength and conditioning in order to compete at a higher level next season.
"I said to the team that they are not getting fit for this season," said Shelton at the beginning of the year. "You're training your body for the next two years so you can be an impact player next season and at the four year university you go to after finishing at CSM. By each player improving their fitness level, they can make an impact right away in the conference they play in and transform their play to better themselves on the field."
The Hawks will miss the leadership from Sophomore's Zachary McDonough and Hunter Vanzandt. McDonough anchored the defense of the Hawks, and played the center-back position as well as anyone in the conference. He was able to make opposing offensive players frustrated throughout the season and made some timely plays that prevented goals from opposing players. Goalie Hunter Vanzandt, despite getting injured in the middle of the season, was able to express his toughness and soccer IQ to his teammates. Every game he played in this season he was always vocal, serving as another coach on the field and trying to point out what was going on during the game and conveying the best ways to be successful on the field throughout the game to his teammates. He finished his CSM Career with 17 games played, 94 saves and a save percentage of 63.5%. Shelton appreciated their leadership since the beginning of the season.
"Zach and Hunter showed up to the first workout and have shown up to everything since then with a positive attitude," said Shelton. "Their work on and off the field went with their positive attitude throughout the season. Their willingness to talk to the freshman that my vision is something they can buy into has been a game changer."
One of the bright spots on the team was Miles Payton. The Freshman midfielder showed that he can make an impact on the offensive side of the ball, scoring one of the four goals the Hawks had this season, with a shot on goal percentage of 44.4%. Forward Rhojay Lemard scored a goal as well, improving since the beginning of the season as he helped the Hawks on the offensive end. Forward Nathaniel Morrison also scored a goal this season and recorded a shooting percentage of 33%.
On the defensive end, Shelton was able to develop three quality players that will help anchor the defense next year. Ethan Carpenter has a powerful leg that can push the ball to the other end of the field to allow his offense to set up their formation and his tall physical stature gives opponents a hard time trying to score. Dylan Henderson and Hunter Youngblood played well this season also, showing their ability to kick the ball from one end of the field to the other and mirroring their offensive opponents.
The first year of the Jake Shelton era at CSM is in the books. While the record may not show it, the men's soccer team made leaps and bounds this season, despite the youth of the roster. The most important priority Shelton wants to bring to CSM is player development. It will all start in the weight-room this offseason.