Championships define greatness in the world of sports. Lipscomb men’s soccer has never tasted that historical sweetness in its programs history.
The 2013 Lipscomb men’s soccer squad took to the practice field on Monday to begin fall camp. This team is looking to build from a (7-12-1) overall, (3-4-1) conference campaign that ended at the feet of Florida Gulf Coast, the two-time defending tournament champions, in the semi-finals of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament.
This year, head coach Charles Morrow fields a roster of 30 student-athletes, including seven who started at least 10 games last season. Only three seniors and six juniors help fill out his roll call.
With the departures of Ethan Summers and Jeremy Reid, sophomore midfielder Anthony Cedano, is looking for a mixture of both upperclassmen and rookies to fill the leadership roles.
“Luke Gearin and Kyle Erickson are definitely taking huge rolls in the leadership position,” Cedano said, “I think we also have some young guys who are ready to step up as well.”
After a long off-season, not only were the returning players ready to take the practice field, so was the incoming class. For freshman goalkeeper Micah Bledsoe, being unfamiliar with the style of collegiate play can be overwhelming at times. He believes the way to counter those feelings is just getting back on the playing field.
“The speed of play and the competitiveness is at a much higher level than in high school,” Bledsoe said, “You have to step-up your game in order to compete out here. I have been preparing all summer to start practicing with my new teammates. It just feels great to be back at it.”
This season, junior midfielder Omar Djabi and sophomore forward Reece Holcombe will try and lead the Bisons to new heights. Djabi was selected to the All-Atlantic Sun Second Team after his performance on the field last season where he finished tied for second on the team in goals (3), assists (2) and total points (8) after starting 17 matches.
Holcombe earned a selection to the All-Atlantic Sun Freshman Team after leading the “Herd” in goals (4) and total points (10). Jose Chavez, Robbie Johnson and Tyler Burkhardt will be relied upon heavily to give this team stability across the field.
With plenty experience returning, there will be opportunities for the freshmen to step up and make an impact this season. Cameron Botes and Bledsoe are two that will push for immediate playing time.
In the offseason, Morrow hit the road in search of a young and energetic coach to help lead this team to prominence. He found the right fit in John Michael Hayden, who spent last season on the sideline at the University of Louisville.
“His playing career speaks for itself, but what really separated him from the group was his continued commitment to developing himself as a person and a coach along with his commitment to developing student-athletes athletically and from a character standpoint,” Morrow said.
Cedano is very enthusiastic about the season. He feels like the dynamite mixture of players and coaching staff will be enough for Lipscomb to cross the threshold in to a championship banner season.
“I am very excited for the season,” Cedano said, “I feel like we have a good young squad coming in and a lot of returners from last year. We definitely have a chance with the new coaching staff, to make a run for a championship this year.”
The team will face Martin-Methodist on Friday night in the first of two exhibition matches. Kick-off will be 7 p.m. at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex.
The regular season jumpstarts on August 30th in the annual “Battle of the Boulevard” matchup. Morrow stressed to the team how important this game is.
When asked if there was a single game on the schedule he was most ready for, Bledsoe answered, “Belmont, the first game.”