TU Men’s Soccer Brings New Culture For 2018
UPLAND, Ind. – The Taylor men’s soccer team will open its 2018 slate on the road at Robert Morris on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. in Chicago, Ill.
Head coach Gary Ross is excited to see what the team can show after being in camp over the last couple of weeks. “What I am looking forward to most about Wednesday is the culmination of the things we have talked about,” he said. “We have talked about really hard defensive pressure, have a relentless work rate and once we have the ball, to calm down a bit.”
The Trojans finished 6-8-3 (2-6-1 CL) a year ago and look to bounce back from finishing the 2017 campaign with two-straight losses, the last defeat came in a 3-1 match against No. 21 Spring Arbor in the Crossroads League Quarterfinals.
TU looks to rebuild on the offensive side of the ball, only returning a fraction of the scoring output from last season. Only five of the 27 goals scored in 2017 were by returning players for this year. On defense, the Trojans bring back two-key goalkeepers from a year ago; Luke Williams and Drew Sezonov combined to save 78 shots on 99 chances.
Ross is in his 15th season at the helm for Taylor and is trying to bring the team closer together while in camp and for the whole season. “There is a much different vibe, we had some culture issues last year, now the guys are rallying together and showing how much it means to them,” he said.
“I have been asking them two questions every day and will continue to ask it throughout the season, ‘how can I be the best possible teammate I can be?’ and ‘how can I get just a little bit better today?’” said Ross.
The Purple and Gold will have a mix of experience and youth on the pitch in 2018 as they will start six upperclassmen and five underclassmen.
Forward Cole Guillaume will help lead the attack for the Trojans, after playing in one match in 2017. Jeremiah Rader, Peter Linn and Juan Alberghetti return as midfielders. Rader scored two goals and Linn tallied one goal scored from last year. The three midfielders bring 75 combined starts to the offense for TU.
Charbel Salako will start his senior campaign as a defender, along with Alex Gallup and Andrew Johnson. Salako had one goal last year and Johnson leads the team with 49 career starts.
Williams will get the nod to start in goal for the opener. The junior started and played in five matches a year ago and had 22 saves and one shutout. He had a .759 save percentage and boasted a 2-3 record.
Taylor will aim to start three true freshmen in the season opener, James McBride, Clay Vander Kolk and Luke Holwerda. Holwerda was an all-state selection for Wheaton Academy in Illinois and scored 34 goals with 17 assists during his senior season.
TU is set to face eight non-conference opponents this fall, who combined to boast a 70-72-7 record from last season. The Trojans first home match will be against St. Francis (Ill.) on Aug. 18 and will play again at home versus Trinity Christian (Aug. 21). Three-straight away games await Taylor verse Judson (Aug. 25), Trinity International (Aug. 27) and Concordia (Sept. 3). Taylor rounds out non-conference play at home against Madonna (Sept. 7) and in-state foe Indiana Tech (Sept. 15).
Crossroads League play opens up against the defending regular season champion Spring Arbor (Sept. 26) at Turner Stadium. The rest of the home schedule includes matches against Bethel (Sept. 29), Marian (Oct. 10), Saint Francis (Oct. 13) and Mount Vernon Nazarene (Oct. 24). Away matches at Goshen (Oct. 3), Grace (Oct. 6), Indiana Wesleyan (Oct. 17) and Huntington (Oct. 20) round out the 2018 regular season schedule.