by Brandon Lerch
The Cleveland State men’s soccer team boasts a plethora of talented young players on the roster. The 2017 season was up and down for the Vikings, going (7-10-2) and (4-3-2) against the conference.
The Vikings are bringing back 16 players from last year’s team and welcoming 13 newcomers, including three transfers and nine freshman. There are a total of three seniors on the roster, including Noah Pio, Gianluca DiFranco and Antonio Burgoa.
The Vikings defense is set to be the driving force for the team with Ben Hryszko, Dan Manolache and Thomas M’Barek returning with a combined 36 starts on defense a year ago as true freshmen. M’Barek was awarded Horizon League All -Freshman First Team honors last year and will be the captain for 2018.
There are four Goalkeepers on roster, consisting of three freshmen in Austin Mitchell, Nicklas Rulle, Alex Gyerman and sophomore Skylar Jeppesen. Rulle got the start against Northwestern, allowing three goals with one save. Gyerman got the start in the second game against Loyola Chicago, allowing just one goal and recording seven saves.
The offense will be led by senior Noah Pio, who had five goals, five assists and was awarded all-conference accolades last season. Junior Lawrence Karpeh will be Pio’s running mate on offense this year, Karpeh contributed three goals and two assists last year. The Vikings will be managed by Head Coach Kirk Harwat, who led the Vikings to the conference semifinals in his first year as Head Coach just a year ago.
The Vikings have lost their first two games of the season to Northwestern University by a score of (3-0) and to Loyola University Chicago in a (1-0) nailbiter. The Vikings home opener will come against the University of Cincinnati. The Bearcats will visit Krenzler field to take on Cleveland State Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.
Cleveland State will get a week off after their home opener before they start conference play, where they will play host against the defending conference champions, University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Cleveland State and Green Bay will match up Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.
The Vikings will then travel to Milwaukee for a road game before coming home to play Bowling Green Sept. 18. The Horizon League conference tournament is set to begin Nov. 5 and finish on Nov. 10.
As a team, Cleveland State has attempted 14 shots in their first two games, and averaging 7 shots per game. They have a 14.3 percent for shots on goal this year and have currently attempted seven corner kicks. The goalkeepers have a combined eight saves and given up four goals, with a 66.7 percent save rate.
While the Vikings are still looking for their first goal and their first win of the year, we’re only two games into the new year and with youth comes a learning curve.