Coming off one of the best seasons in program history, the Cayuga Community College Men's Soccer Team is hoping a few veterans and a cast of new players can again push the team to new heights.
The Spartans closed the 2018 season with a 14-3-1 record, winning the Region III title and advancing to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Semifinal before falling 1-0 to eventual runner-up Nassau Community College. The team set a College record for win-loss ratio and tied the program's best finish in the NJCAA Division III poll, where they landed in the fourth slot.
That's a tough act to follow, but Coach Chris Davison believes the Spartans have a chance for another special season, and he's not alone in that thought. Voters in the United Soccer Coaches Poll also have a strong opinion of the Spartans' potential in 2019, ranking them 7th nationally to start the season.
"I think we're going to do well, and we're definitely going to try to follow-up and emulate the success we had last season. We have some talented players returning from last year's team who will guide our younger players. It should be another strong year," said Davison.
Returning for the 2019 Spartans are Kent Meier, who finished second on the 2018 team with 13 goals and was named second-team All-American, first-team All-Conference and first-team All-Region, striker Matthew Devlin and captains Lorenz Behrendt and Dennis Bates. Behrendt was named to the Tournament All-Region team in 2018, while Devlin tallied six goals last season.
While there's plenty of returning talent for the Spartans, the roster is primarily comprised of new faces. Cayuga has six returning players for the upcoming season and 17 new players.
Davison said a large part of the preseason has been devoted to building the teamwork that made last season's team so successful.
"We have more freshmen than last year, but we've responded with a back-to-basics approach to the season to get everyone on the same page, and I think that's got our team moving in the right direction," he said.
Davison said he expects the team to again compete for a conference title, with its primary challenge coming from perennial rival Onondaga Community College, whom the Spartans play at OCC on Oct. 2. Cayuga topped OCC 4-0 in 2018.
"We're going to take the season one game at a time, step-by-step, but I do expect that the game at OCC will be a big factor in determining the conference this season. They'll have the home field advantage this time, so we'll have to overcome that," he said.
Cayuga opens up its regular season on Saturday, Aug. 31, with an away non-conference contest at North Country Community College. They follow that up on Sept. 1 with an away match at Clinton Community College.
The Spartans' first home match, and the team's first contest at the newly-renovated Falcon Park in Auburn, is Sept. 11 against SUNY Broome Community College.