By James Howey
“Since I’ve been coaching here, for some reason this year I’ve felt something positive and something good,” head soccer coach Fatai Ayoade said. “I could just feel it.”
The Cavaliers have started the season playing all ranked opponents, including the number-one team in Divisions I and III and the number-two team in Division I. The Cavs defeated the top team in Division III, Richland College, 2-1, tied number-two Iowa Western and lost to number-one Tyler Junior College 3-0. The Cavs are 2-1-1 and ranked number 12 in the NJCAA Division I poll.
“I think that was important that we played those guys early on and we had really good results,” sophomore Trae Hunjak said. “Everyone is really confident on the team about getting conference play started.”
For Coach Ayoade, putting together a tough schedule is critical to the team growing through the season.
“When people look at my schedule and say ‘Oh Fatai, you’re crazy,’ no, I’m not crazy,” Ayoade said. “That kind of competition is what we’re going to meet if we go to nationals, and if we use that experience when we play in conference, it will benefit us.”
The Cavs have many newcomers on the team contributing to the team’s success this season, including freshman goalkeeper Caleb Cothrin, who won goalkeeper of the week for the KJCCC.
“We have a lot of freshmen who are stepping in and helping us a lot,” Hunjak said. “Our goalie, Caleb Cothrin, has done a tremendous job.”
Hunjak hopes that the Cavs will be more aggressive on both sides of the ball as the season progresses.
“We need to probably just be clinical in front of the goal when we get the chance to put them away,” Hunjak said. “Also our aggressiveness on defense when we pressure.”
The Cavs still have some chemistry kinks to work through on the offensive side, but the Cavs look like they have the potential to be scary good as the season continues.
“Offensively we have a lot good players. Making them gel together, work together and be productive together is what we are still working on,” Ayoade said. “If we can get them to understand each other, I think we will be a force to be reckoned with in our conference and at the national level.”