WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The year began in uncertainty and ended with a great deal of progress on an individual and a team level for a relatively young Sabercats Men's Soccer Team - a team that had to fill 16 vacancies coming into an already challenging 2020 season.
Losing 16 members of a soccer team is a blow for any team, and it's practically unheard of at the college level. So not only did the Sabercats have to battle the uncertainty of a constantly changing schedule, but they also had to rebuild a lineup that lost seven starters from last year's NCCAA Nationals appearance. It was a year where they had to refocus, and they did just that.
A LOOK BACK
The Sabercats started about as well as they could've, opening the season with a 3-1 win at Great Lakes Christian. The following weekend, they would repeat that scoreline, winning on the road for the second time this season. The win came at Lincoln Christian University, as high-quality goals from Braeden Hansel and Kyle Cummins gave the Sabercats the win and momentum going into the third week of games.
The schedule was tough, and the team had to settle for playing multiple games against the same team - after all, very few schools ventured to compete in the fall season. Viterbo, Grace Christian, and Northwestern (Minn.) were three giants that stood in the Sabercats' way, as all three handed Maranatha shutout losses in the middle part of the season.
A key highlight to the midway stretch was the team's 2-1 win at Faith Baptist on October 10. It took a dramatic late winner from Jacob MacDonald to seal it, as MacDonald's goal came with less than 30 seconds on the clock. It was the junior's first career goal to add to his first career assist that day, and the win marked career win number 100 at the helm of MBU Soccer for Coach Jeff Pill.
After a season of 12 regular-season games, the Sabercats eventually fell to Faith and Moody in a round-robin NCCAA North Region Tournament. Moody would go on to win the region and secure a top-four finish at the NCCAA National Tournament.
Overall, the Sabercats saw rewards through adversity, growth through challenge, and direction through uncertainty in the midst of the 2020 season.
COACH PILL'S PERSPECTIVE
"I was impressed with how consistently the guys worked all year," said Coach Jeff Pill. "Even after having lost over half the team. They were very process-driven and they focused on getting better and finding out ways they could win games. A lot of people put in extra work individually to work on their weaknesses. Our three senior captains all led by example and contributed in a very positive way.
"A lot of guys stepped up and played at a new level this year - Braeden [Hansel] and Kendall Elms in particular. Their attitude and effort were good foundations for us as we look to move forward and add some players to the mix. I really appreciated the team's spirit and their positivity. Our last game was probably our best game of the year."
- Record: 3-9-2
- NCCAA Record: 3-4-2
- NCCAA Finish: 3rd - NCCAA North Region
- Notable: 4 NCCAA All-Region selections
- Notable: Coach Jeff Pill - 100 career wins
At last week's Athletic Awards Assembly, the Sabercats announced their team awards, which are voted on by the team and are based on the team's CORE BELIEF DOCUMENT. In addition to these honors, the student-athletes earned awards from the National Christian College Athletic Association.
A complete breakdown of the awards is listed below:
|CORE BELIEF AWARDS||RECIPIENT|
|Process Award||Taylor Hugg|
|Qualities of the Heart Award||Joshua Wright|
|Qualities of the Mind Award||Tim Kinzler|
|Qualities of Action Award||Zeke Steuerwald|
|Jamie O'Dell Leadership Award||Stephen Roer|
|NCCAA All-Region Selections|
|Braeden Hansel||Stephen Roer|
|Tim Kinzler||Zeke Steuerwald|
|NCCAA All-American 2nd Team Selection|
|NCCAA Scholar-Athletes (JR, SR, GS only)|
For more on the program, visit their team page HERE.