Soccer Team Update and Postseason Preview

Kevin McMahon, Staff Writer

A year ago, the 2017 University School Soccer team faced a daunting challenge as they were moved up from Division II to Division I. However, instead of doubting their ability, the 2017 team used this as an extra incentive to work harder in the offseason. Their hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed as the team not only earned a top spot in the playoffs, but they reached the State-Semi finals, which they hadn’t even been able to do in Division II. Despite a strong effort on all sides of the ball, the team fell in a heartbreaking overtime loss to a nationally ranked St. Ignatius. With graduating many key players after the 2017 season, returning players knew the task of building off of and surpassing last years success would now be much more difficult.

Once again, this daunting challenge did not faze the Preppers. Incoming senior captains Griffin Meyer, Enea Cominelli, and Michael Zemanek rose to the occasion, setting high expectations for the 2018 season. Starting with 6 am practices in the spring before the season, having weekly captains practices throughout June and July, and finally enduring a tough August, filled with two-a-day practices and workouts, the team was ready for the season.

In their first game of the season, Seniors Griffin Meyer and Enea Cominelli continued right where they left off last year, each scoring two goals in their 4-0 victory over rival Hawken. The following games featured wins over Riverside and Eastlake North. After starting the season with three impressive wins, the Maroon and Black traveled to Lake Catholic where they faced their toughest test yet. Dealing with 90-degree heat, US fell to a 1-0 halftime deficit. With inspiring words from both Coach Ptacek and the captains at halftime, the team leveled the score at one apiece early in the second half. Despite gaining momentum early in the second half, the team came up short, losing 2-1.

Although the team was initially unhappy with the result, the team took away valuable lessons from this match. They learned that losing is key to later success because without experiencing the pain and hardship of falling short of a common goal, the team would take winning for granted and lose focus on improvement. The team took this lesson to heart, as they worked to improve their weaknesses in practice before their next contest against Shaker Heights High School. Despite the team playing a sloppy first half, Enea Cominelli’s second-half goal gave the team the momentum they needed to succeed. After Enea’s goal in the 41st minute to provide the team with a 1-0 lead, midfielder Griffen Meyer found the back of the net, securing a 2-0 victory over the Red Raiders. Although the team went into their next stretch of games with loads of momentum, the Preppers fell to both St. Eds and Archbishop Hoban and later came up short in their next two contests, tying Mentor and Walsh. This hardship, coupled with the season-ending injury of starting midfielder John Desantis, it seemed as if nothing was going the Preppers way. Luckily, however, Senior Tyler Alt rose to the occasion. Alt, a star player on the hockey team, was a huge help to the Preppers defense as he used his quick speed and aggressive play to lock down opposing players. With the addition of Alt’s lockdown defense, the Preppers earned their first win in over a month defeating Lincoln West 5-3. Later that week, the Preppers added another victory to their record, defeating Western Reserve Academy 3-0. On October 7th, the Preppers played host to West Geagua. The game recognized the Seniors and all they have contributed to the program in their careers at US. As a thank you to the Senior soccer players, the coaches allowed them to play the whole game where they defeated West Geauga 6-1. As the season comes to an end, the Preppers will travel to Pennsylvania to compete in their last Regular season game against Kiski Prep before embarking on their postseason journey. Make sure to come out and support the team as they look to make a deep run into the playoffs. Hope to see you there!