Finding the Groove: 2018 Men's Soccer Season Preview

Finding the Groove: 2018 Men's Soccer Season Preview

SCHEDULE | ROSTER

WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The 2018 Sabercats Men's Soccer team returns to the pitch looking to find a groove as they look to a promising postseason. Last season, the Sabercats reached the NCCAA Regional Championship for just the third time since 2010 but fell short to Providence University College in a narrow 1-0 loss. Last season, the Sabercats finished with a 9-10-0 record and a 4-3-0 showing in NCCAA play.

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • The Sabercats will host the NCCAA North Region Tournament, November 1-3. This will be the first time since 2012 that Maranatha has hosted the event. Slated to compete with the Sabercats for the title of "North Region Champion" will be Calvary (Kansas City), Emmaus Bible (Dubuque, Iowa), Faith Baptist (Ankeny, Iowa), Moody Bible (Chicago), North Central (Minneapolis), and the defending champions, Providence (Manitoba, Canada). Seedings for the tournament will be announced once the regular-season play is complete.
  • The Sabercats return eight players that played in the 2017 NCCAA Regional Championship game, including AD3I All-Independent selections Andrew Taylor and Caleb Hockema. This year's squad boasts four seniors (or graduate students) and seven first-year players.
  • This year's schedule holds five home games in September and one in October.
  • This will be head coach Jeff Pill's 11th season at the helm. Under Pill, the Sabercats hold a record of 82-105-4.
  • The Sabercats have qualified for the NCCAA DII National Tournament two times under the direction of head coach Jeff Pill (2008, 2014). Since 2008, a team from the Sabercats' region has reached the NCCAA DII National Championship game six times, and four teams from the Sabercats' region have taken the title.

FEATURED HOME GAMES

  • vs North Central (Minn.) - 9.6 - North Central is a perennial powerhouse in NCCAA regional play. The last time the Sabercats hosted the Rams was in 2016, where the Rams took home a 3-0 win.
  • vs Beloit - 9.15 - Maranatha has bested the Buccaneers two of the last three times that the Bucs have visited Watertown.
  • vs Moody Bible - 9.29 - This game needs no introduction. Last year, the Sabercats defeated Moody for the first time in the regular season since 2009. Moody leads the all-time series, 31-13.

COACH PILL'S TAKE

On Preseason: "The guys worked hard during the pre-season, and things got organized pretty quickly. We have identified how we are going to play, and have moved towards finding the best spots for the players to contribute."

On the Freshmen: "We have a good incoming class. They lack experience at a higher competitive level but have been growing steadily since their arrival. Josh Hockema, Kevin Burns, and Joel Shepard will be fighting for starting positions."

On Strengths: "I think our strengths are in our commitment to each other and to our beliefs.  It is a great group of guys, many of whom have leadership roles on campus. When the university held their workshops for dorm and student activity leadership positions, over half of the team was missing from training that day. That speaks to the quality of guys that we have attracted and who are part of the team."

On Challenges: "Of course, there are always the challenges which are present from being part of a small school regarding busy schedules and player involvement in other aspects of life here on campus. Our biggest challenge soccer-wise will be scoring goals.  We are having difficulty creating opportunities with consistency, and then converting the chances which we get. But progress has been steady, and we are making strides."

On Goals for the Season: "Certainly, we would like the chance to compete for the regional championship again We realize that it will take effort and commitment to the process and the willingness to embrace the competitive demands."

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The Sabercats begin the season tomorrow with an away game at Lincoln Christian University. For the latest schedule and results, visit mbusabercats.com/composite

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