September 10, 2021 | SPORTS | By Olivia Xerras | Photo by Anil Jergens
The Colorado College men’s soccer team kicked off their season’s opening game on Stewart Field against Gustavus Adolphus College on Sept. 4. This long-anticipated game opener for the program brought stunning energy from the opening kick to the overtime, game-winning goal.
The game had more significance than an average season opener and the Tigers were intent on victory. “Gustavus knocked us out of the NCAA tournament in 2019,” Captain Kevin Peterson ’23 said. “So with those eight returners or however many there are, there’s kind of a chip on our shoulders.”
That chip manifested itself as a comeback goal to tie the game in the second half, a testament to the Tigers’ determination. Beating a once season-ending opponent and a top-25 team on the opening weekend is telling of the potential this young group has for the season.
“We have a pretty deep team,” Peterson said. “We have a starting lineup but the players coming off the bench should maintain the level or make it better.”
The talent level of both the returners and incoming freshmen has gotten the attention of many sports fans across campus. This translated to great crowd turnouts even earlier in the season.
Defender Noah Johnson ’23 remarked on the positive on-field energy that a supportive crowd brings, especially after playing a season without any fans.
“Even in these exhibition games that we had, we drew a penalty in the 89th minute to tie the game, not even to win the game, and the crowd was up on their feet,” Johnson said. “All of us were rushing to celebrate that goal. It’s something that we didn’t get to have very much of last year, especially with the regulations on how we were allowed to celebrate as a team. It’s really awesome that we get to now, that adds so much to it.”
With students and CC soccer fans back on the hill, the excitement is palpable and normalcy feels closer than ever.
This immediate shift and team success coming into this season is nothing short of inspiring. The team has big goals for the season. Johnson identified how these goals surrounding the topic of winning have been established from the beginning, even as early as the pre-pre-season.
“We actually got together over the summer before we talked to our coaches and decided that this is a year that we should do a lot better in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament,” Johnson said. “Last year we got out in the first round of the SCAC and we want to be final contenders. We want to be champions.”
“I think a lot of it is just taking it one game at a time, taking it one weekend at a time and we’re only looking at this weekend right now. We’re not really looking too far ahead, just focused on winning Saturday,” Alexander (Spud) Ward ’24 said.
That’s exactly what the team did in their thrilling two-to-one victory over the Golden Gusties in minute 96. With the crowd on their feet, the Tigers were able to celebrate in a unique-to-Stewart Field way, a ceremony Johnson touched on before the game.
“It’s a ritual after we win to ring the bell behind Stewart Field to indicate how many victories we’ve had this season,” Johnson said. “I’m hoping to ring that bell a whole lot this year and it starts on Saturday.”