Men’s soccer season wrap-up

Men%27s+soccer+season+wrap-up

by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor [email protected]

The men’s soccer team was dropped by No. 19 Loras College in the Iowa Conference semifinals last Wednesday, ending Simpson’s season at 9-9-3.

But the year couldn’t be measured by numbers. That would be too tame.

“This season was just a season of crazy emotions and feelings that I haven’t been through,” senior captain Marcus Varnum said. “But I feel like we are all walking away better people, stronger and united because of it.”

In any sport, some seasons have clearly defined low points and high points. Some don’t, and the 2015 men’s soccer season wasn’t one of those seasons.

What they will remember of 2015 men’s soccer

Coming into the 2015 season, head coach Rick Isaacson looked at his team and believed in its potential, but wasn’t sure who was going to shoulder that leadership lost after losing Simpson all-time leader in goals Mitchell White.

“Looking to the 2015 season, one of our biggest concerns was where are we going to get that leadership from,” Isaacson said.

With nine seniors, eight who played, this concern was surprising, yet also expected.

Captains Varnum, Louis Joslyn and Josh Harry helped pick up this load collectively, but when a freshman scored the first game-winning goal of the season and a senior the last, it became apparent that no player would come away without memories from 2015.

They’ll remember when freshman Darius Doswell scored an overtime header to beat Grinnell 2-1 in the season opener.

They’ll remember being ahead 1-0 at halftime against an undermanned Rockford team, and not being happy about it.

“At the beginning of the year we started off slow,” Harry said. “I can go through the list. Rockford at halftime was a very low point.”

They’ll remember leading 1-0 at halftime, only to allow four second half goals and lose 4-2 to Nebraska Wesleyan.

“Nebraska Wesleyan was one of the worst ones where it was just, ‘Man, what is happening to us?’” Varnum said.

They’ll remember the 3-2 overtime loss to Saint Mary’s (Minn.) when the game-winning goal was set up by a lucky bounce off the crossbar.

Again, another “what is happening” moment.

They’ll remember the debilitating, roller coast 2-1 loss to Dubuque when the Spartans scored the game-winning goal with 65 seconds remaining in the match. Just three and a half minutes after Simpson tied it up.

But then they’ll remember when things started to look up, right around early October in Rock Island, Ill.

“I think a turning point for us was going to Augustana (Ill.) and winning,” senior captain Louis Joslyn said. “We blanked them 2-0. That was big defensively to get a shutout. We started to find ourselves at that point in the season.”

The next game ended in a 1-1 draw against Luther on Homecoming night, but the draw was more of a win.

They’ll remember junior Austin Schafer making eight saves in his first career start as goalkeeper.

“I’d say when we turned it around and played real quality soccer was against Luther,” Varnum said. “That kind of gave us that boost that we are fine, we have just been unlucky.”

Then the 4-0 tear in which Simpson outscored its conference opponents 14-1 was the next memory.

In that time Tyler Neumann set the all-time Simpson career-assists record with 22, finding Darius Doswell on a cross against Coe on Oct. 16.

But arguably they’ll most remember the first round of the Iowa Conference tournament.

Down 1-0 with 15 seconds left to Wartburg at home, it looked like final game for many on the team.

It wasn’t.

“With about 40 seconds left, the goalie collects it, and then he punts it into the air. Nick Joslyn, as the ball goes into the air, he goes, ‘Marcus, we got one more chance,’” Varnum said.

Eminem should have been blaring in the background, because Varnum didn’t blow his one chance. Instead, he drilled a 20-yarder inside the far post with 14 seconds remaining in the game, leading Simpson to an eventual 6-5 win by penalty kicks after two scoreless overtimes.

“It is still not real to me,” Varnum said. “It’s overwhelming for sure. That was just unreal, and then the feeling afterwards of, ‘We are just unbeatable.’ It was just a crazy feeling I don’t think I’ll ever experience again.”

The 3-0 loss to Loras in the next round was tough, but from the words of the men’s soccer team, the late season push overshadowed that defeat.

As did the maturation process that this season brought.

“This was by far the hardest year of my four years here,” Louis Joslyn said. “In a lot of different ways. It meant a lot of growth, even though we had a lot of seniors.”

While 2015 is barely in the rearview, the team will enjoy the year. Some will be getting ready to graduate, but the returners, a youthful group, will have to draw from the growth of this year in preparation for 2016.

“It’s going to be tough,” Harry said. “It’s a ton of talent graduating. People are not going to give us a lot of respect. We have to get in the weight room, getting touches on the ball and grow as a group so that we are strong in the fall.”