Soccer looking for winning finish

Anna Nelson

After a strong showing at the Upper Midwest Regional Tournament, the men’s club soccer team will soon be making its second straight trip to nationals.

Eau Claire, 10-4, won three of four games at regionals Oct. 27 and 28 in Coon Rapids, Minn. and received an at-large bid to compete at nationals Nov. 17-19 in Coco Beach, Fla.

“We’re looking to win it this year,” said junior Tim Schoonenberg, who was a member of last year’s team that advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to the University of Minnesota. “We think we’re better than Iowa State or anyone else in our region.”

Eau Claire and Iowa State both went 3-1 at regionals to finish ahead of the field, but Iowa State beat Eau Claire to receive the automatic berth. Eau Claire earned a wild card selection.

Joining Eau Claire and Iowa State at nationals will be two additional teams from the Upper Midwest region, and four teams from each of the other three regions (South, East, West).

Sophomore Adam Van Beck believes the key to the team’s success this year has been an influx of talented new players like juniors Carlos Garcia and Sam Larsen.

“Our team is much stronger than we expected,” Van Beck said. “We expected this to be a rebuilding year, but we got lucky because a lot of our rookies walked on and molded the team right away.

“They took us a step up from where we were,” he said.

The team has been training in the new Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center in order to stay sharp during the long gap between regionals and nationals.

“It’s a great facility for soccer,” junior goalie Jake Kordash said.

Kordash believes last year’s experience will be a huge asset for the team this time around.

“We’ll do better mainly because we know what to expect,” Kordash said. “Last year we didn’t know what the competition would be like.”