It has only been their first season on campus and already the Men’s Soccer Club has students lining up to grab a position, a winning record and the bond that keeps the club strong.
Alex Strehl and Matt Joanou worked on creating the club after it started as a proposal assignment for a technical writing class in spring quarter of last year.
Once the class was over, Joanou and Strehl took the simple idea and turned it into a formation process that later became the Men’s Soccer Club.
“Last May, Alex Strehl and I started looking into what it would take to start the club,” said Joanou, president of the Soccer Club. “Everyone’s always talked about starting it but no one ever had. Eventually we contacted the league with our interest in joining. A lot of work was done last summer trying to get everything figured out.”
Joanou credits many people with helping the Cal Poly Soccer Club get up and running. They were able to find a coach, Johnny Costa, who coaches the local youth soccer team SLO Fire.
“Bill Babka, the owner of Sloco Soccer Store on Monterey St., donated the full uniforms for the season; Paul Holocher, head coach of the men’s soccer team at Cal Poly, was also a tremendous help; Everett Brooks, sports club coordinator at Cal Poly, guided us through the process of becoming a legitimate sports club,” Joanou said.
The main goal of the club is to give people a chance to experience the in-between of playing for the Cal Poly men’s soccer team and playing for fun.
“The goal for us is to play beautiful soccer, field a competitive team and play at a college level without the time commitment involved in playing an NCAA sport,” vice president Strehl explained.
The team’s popularity has already forced them to turn people away this year during winter and spring season tryouts. Out of the 60 men who showed up to try out, only 24 players – including two goalies – were accepted.
To grab hold of one of those 24 spots next season, make sure to bring your A-game and determination.
“We are looking for players that take the game seriously while at the same time bring a positive attitude and fun to the team,” said team captain and centerback Jean-Carlos Reyes. “We’re looking for guys who know how to knock the ball around and get stuck in.”
The Men’s Soccer Club has a two-month season, which lasts from mid-September to mid-November.
“The rest of the year is one big off-season with one big tournament in March,” Joanou explained.
The team holds three two-hour practices a week during the regular season along with a day dedicated to fitness training. During off-season, the team continues to practice twice a week while they play in a local men’s league in Paso Robles.
“We continue during off-season to play on a lower level and we look to develop new players and we bring them into the club,” Strehl said.
All this hard work paid off during the soccer club’s first season.
“We played in the California Collegiate Club Soccer League (CCCSL),” Joanou said. “Since it was our first season of play, we had to compete in the lower tier of the league. We competed in the southern section of the lower tier and played teams like UCSD, USC and UCSB. We went 6-1 in the regular season, winning our tier, and went on to play the California Regional Tournament at UC Davis, where we lost in semi-finals to UCLA. Next season we will be promoted to the upper tier of the league.”
The team’s success, according to Joanou, is credited to many people and factors. Their captain, Reyes, is very solid at centerback and their defense is definitely one of the strong points of their team as well.
“Defense has only given up four goals in seven regular season games,” Joanou said. “Ryan Brown is a brilliant striker up top – he scored a lot of the goals for us this season. There is an abundance of talent on the team. It’s hard to pick out individuals.”
Joanou said the team has molded together so well that during the first season they shut out the first two teams they played – and that was after only four practices together as a team.
“It was phenomenal how well we did playing against teams who have played multiple years together,” he said. “We just have so much talent on the team, I can’t say enough.”