Men’s soccer looks forward to next season

Credit: File Photo Credit: File Photo

Back in the beginning of October, the Carnegie Mellon men’s soccer team seemed to be in cruise control. Having gone an impressive 8–0 in the first month of the season and being ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation, the Tartans looked like they would continue to improve on the successes of the year before. But a tough schedule, injuries, and other unexpected setbacks foiled the Tartans’ aspirations for reaching the NCAA Division III men’s soccer tournament for a third consecutive year.

With a brand new soccer field and a glorious 2009 season to build on, the Tartans had plenty of momentum before the season even began. The big question was how the team would cope with having lost 11 key seniors.

In the first game of the season, the Tartans were able to pull off a convincing 3–0 win against Washington & Jefferson College. The new look-the forward trio of juniors Kyle Young and Brad Edelman– and sophomore Alex Abedian looked like a deadly combination up top, but the main story was the notable performances of first-years Max Tassano, Scott Gerfen, and Matt Sarett in their college season. Sarett had a solid performance in the midfield, and Tassano and Gerfen were both able to notch their first career goals.

The Cardinal and Gray continued its dominance and went on to win the Carnegie Mellon Radisson Invitational Tournament. The team then faced a tough five-game road streak that included games in Colorado and Illinois. Impressively, the Tartans were able to wrap up the first month of the season with a perfect record, but the demanding early season road tests took a lot out of the team.

Injuries forced sophomore key starter John Crawshaw out for the majority of the rest of the season, and other starters like sophomore Zach Stahl and Edelman were forced out of the lineup due to knocks as well.

The turning point of the season came in the first week that the Tartans began University Athletic Association (UAA) conference play. The Tartans first traveled to Chicago, where they suffered a surprise first loss of the season against the University of Chicago in overtime. A week later, the Tartans had to face top-rated Washington University (Mo.) at home but failed to come up with the big win, and instead picked up only their second home loss in two years.

With a number of first-years filling in as a result of Carnegie Mellon’s injury and suspension problems, experience was definitely lacking when it came down to the demanding conference games. The Tartans managed to win just one of four UAA games that had gone into overtime but never lost by more than a single goal. Despite a valiant effort late in the season against nationally ranked University of Rochester and an upset against Emory University, the Tartans came up short of reaching the postseason.

Although disappointed to not have achieved some of their preseason goals, the Carnegie Mellon men’s soccer team has a bright future ahead. With a large first-year class coming in, it was quite clear that this was going to be a bit of a transitional year for Carnegie Mellon. However, the underclassmen were was able to pick up a plethora of experience with Tassano, Sarret, and first-year Chris Wysocki showing much promise in the years ahead.

Overall, Carnegie Mellon finished the season with a strong 11–4–1 record and sixth in the UAA conference. Expect to see a revitalized side next year as they will once again prove to be a force not only in the UAA conference, but on a national level as well.

“It was just as exciting as it was disappointing,” Abedian said. “Disappointing because of the few critical close losses, but it’s also going to be exciting to see the young talent we had this year mature into a great team next year.”