Men’s soccer comes up just shy of winning it all

After an impressive season from the men’s soccer team, they fall to Oakland in the Horizon League Championship game

A Vikings player shoots the ball in their game against Oakland. Photo courtesy of Vikings Athletics

The Cleveland State University men’s soccer team finished their 2021 season with a 3-1 loss to Oakland in the Horizon League Championship game on Nov. 13.

The Vikings finished their campaign with a 10-8 overall record, an 8-2 record in the Horizon League, and their first appearance in the championship game since 2012. To add to their impressive season, Junior Pablo Kawecki, Seniors Jannis Schmidt, and Thomas M’Barek were named to the all-tournament team after Cleveland State’s final loss to Oakland.

Despite coming up just short, the Vikings look back on their 2021 season with pride as they reached strong achievements under head coach Sinisa Ubiparipovic. Players like Schmidt believe that Cleveland State performed well this past season.

“The team performance overall was very good,” Schmidt said. “We can be proud of the way we implemented the game philosophy, that was set out by our coach.”

The Vikings had some difficult battles in 2021. Cleveland State struggled when facing Oakland during an October league game as well as the championship game. But, when faced with these challenges, the Vikings found ways to prevail.

“A lot of team spirit, as well as the individual talent that is in this group, helped us to be successful even in tough situations,” Schmidt said. “There were also games where the luck might have been more on our side, but in soccer, you have to earn your luck by working hard and creating chances, which we certainly did.”

Despite not achieving all the goals that they wanted to, the Vikings still believe that the 2021 season was a success. As Cleveland State looks back on their season, their tournament run is a memory that will stick with them.

“At the beginning of each season we set ourselves high goals and one of them is to go as far as possible in the league tournament,” Schmidt said. “The experience (of the Championship game) was something new and definitely different than regular-season matches. Unfortunately, we ended up coming short, but it is still something that all of us will remember for a very long time.”

Schmidt finishes his senior season with 22 points and 10 assists through six games. It certainly was a year to remember for these Vikings and the anticipation to see what they can build upon next season will only grow.