Mackenzie Pridham in Cal Poly’s October loss to Cal State Fullerton. Pridham is one of eight seniors this year, including Brett Finkelstein, Chris Bernardi, George Malki, Ronald Medrano Williams, Kevin Atkins, Mike Hocker and Connor Dreschler.
“Stick out the four years; it’s worth it. You will not only grow as an athlete, but as a person.”
This was the advice given to senior forward Mackenzie Pridham as he decided whether or not he wanted to continue his soccer career after suffering an ankle injury his sophomore year.
Pridham chose to continue playing, winning two Big West Offensive Player of the Year awards and, more recently, is up for nomination to win the NCAA Senior Class Award.
“Those words have helped me to become who I am today,” Pridham said. “The coaches implemented if I really wanted to take myself to the next level as a leader and as a player. The day-to-day grind with my teammates and the extra hours with my coaches really paid off.”
This grind came to a halt, however, as the Mustangs lost 4-1 against Cal State Northridge in the opening round of the Big West Conference playoffs.
The Mustangs were without injured Pridham, who now holds the school record for the most goals in a season with 27.
“It was really tough for me to take,” Pridham said. “I told my coaches that I wanted to be on the bus and I had to be there for them. Being able to go through normal team preparation and meals allowed me to talk to individual players, and I was also able to say a few words in the locker room to thank the team for a great season. I’m glad I was able to be there, because all in all, it’s been a great experience being a Cal Poly soccer player.”
Sophomore outside back Kip Colvey scored the only goal of the game and his first of the season against the Matadors.
“My teammate John Chronopoulos had the ball on the right wing and slipped a pass to me. I hit it low and it slid in past the goalkeeper,” Colvey said. “I was really ecstatic and happy because that put us back at level terms with Northridge.”
The men’s soccer team entered the game following consecutive losses against UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.
“We lost a few seniors this year, but we had younger guys stepping into their roles nicely,” Colvey said. “It was a good team feel and chemistry this year, which is what led to more goals, but we also gave up a lot of goals as well, which led to elimination from the playoffs.”
Freshman winger Justin Dhillon is among the new talent the Mustangs acquired this year, and he scored the only goal for Cal Poly in the home game draw against UC Santa Barbara.
“Words can’t even describe how I felt scoring the goal in front of all of the fans,” Dhillon said. “There was adrenaline flowing everywhere, and Cal Poly showed so much passion and love for the soccer team. The fans make playing so much more meaningful.”
The Mustangs’ success as an overall unit this season can be attributed to the change in the team’s dynamic.
“In the past two years we have really come together and jelled, and our players and coaching staff have come together at a better level,” Pridham said. “There is a positive change in the connection that has been built over the past two years. The chemistry and togetherness between the players and the coaching staff really pushed the team to the next level this year.”
Even though the season just ended, the men’s soccer team has already started training for the 2014 season.
“I’m involved in a weight-training program that helps me to get better at conditioning,” Colvey said. “I might play in the Premier Development League over summer, which will allow me to keep my game sharp.”
One goal that the team looks toward is eventually winning an Big West championship, Colvey said.
Pridham is one of eight seniors this year, including Brett Finkelstein, Chris Bernardi, George Malki, Ronald Medrano Williams, Kevin Atkins, Mike Hocker and Connor Dreschler.
“I’m graduating in December, and my direct goal is to play at the professional level,” Pridham said. “I’ve been talking to professional coaches and agents, and I’m grinding to get myself ready for the combines in December. I want to go pro, whether that be in the MLS or overseas, and I want to keep pushing myself to see what I can accomplish and how far I can go.”
Now that the season is over, the team reflected on how appreciative they are of the Cal Poly community.
“I want to give a shout out to the Manglers for always supporting us,” Dhillon said. “It makes the team so much more pumped up, and it gives us a reason to keep fighting for our school.”
“It means so much to us, and the support helps us get through the tough times,” Pridham added. “We want to keep building the program and we want to get as many fans out there as we can. We’ve had some great times and good experiences, and some memories that I will never forget. I want to thank the coaches for the commitment that they have put into the program, and I hope to continue my legacy and represent Cal Poly as a whole in the future.”
The Cal Poly men’s soccer team finished the 2013 season with a 10-9-2 overall record.