The Ranger Stadium saw both men’s and women’s soccer sides secure wins, with seven goals in total for the Rangers in the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 26. These two games were important because they were wins at home, but also because this fixture against Juniata was the last home game for the Class of 2020 senior soccer players.
The first game at the stadium was the men’s side. The team, in their white at home kit, demonstrated passionate and classy play. On the supporter’s stands, parents, friends and fans of the team were mesmerized by the entertaining game. Meanwhile on the pitch, the seniors felt this moment was one of great pride yet sadness considering the ups, downs and memories experienced on the pitch. Midfielder, Tyler Kwaak (’20), described the nuances of this moment perfectly, “It felt like time slowed on the pitch and I was reminded of all the happiness, heartbreak, sweat and tears that went into solidifying our class as one of the best to ever come through the program.”
These nine men were a part of the 2017 squad that went undefeated in the regular season and won the Landmark Conference. In addition to this, the 2017 team went to the NCAA sweet sixteen, a journey that these players will never forget. They are proud of this accomplishment, as they should be. Not just because of the feeling of victory, but because of the solidifying of life-long family bonds. The captains’ GK Jason Adamo (’20) and Forward Aidan Cserhat (’20) both agree that they will miss the locker room shenanigans most, along with bus rides to away games which were moments in which teammates became friends who became brothers——“A family”, as Ian Sawicki (’20) put it. For Kyle MacDonnell (’20), Damien Robbins (’20) and Robert Paniti (’20); playing this sport was special because it granted the opportunity to make friends, not only with your peers in your graduating years, but with the incoming and outgoing players throughout the years.
Soccer, as like any other immersive experience in life, carries with it challenges that exist in everyday life. Although, these challenges can conflict with one’s play of the game, they can also build character and instill life-long lessons. Forward Matt Asante (’20) explained that he will miss the challenges that came with playing soccer but will also miss the privilege of being able to play the sport competitively every day with teammates who made him proud to be a soccer player.
In the same way that the Men’s team displayed their love for the sport and for each other during the final game at home, the women’s team had a 4 p.m. kick off and showed everyone that they are a team driven by hard work and sisterhood. It is no surprise that this final game was an emotional, but exciting, one for the seniors. They have been a key piece in making Drew’s women’s soccer team a competitive one with their leadership on and off the pitch grounded on principles of respect, hard work and high spirits.
Elisabeth Legge (’20) felt quite sad during the Juniata game because through soccer, she met some of her best friends at Drew, a message echoed by both the captains Sarah Burcaw (’20) and Alexa Simon (’20) who expressed that there was something bittersweet about Saturday’s game. “During the last game I felt overwhelmed with love and sadness that this chapter of my life is ending,” said captain Alexa Simon. “This team has been everything to me and taking the field with them one last time is a memory I will hold onto for a lifetime.” The closeness of the team is something the captains will greatly miss. The moments spent gearing up for the games with music in the locker rooms to putting on their Drew jerseys and a winner’s mentality. Sydney Ziemba (’20) says she will really miss “the overnight at Catholic and Juanita”, where many memories were made. In a similar way, Burcaw says she will leave Drew with such fond memories of these overnight games, where she could room with her best friends, “jumping from bed to bed like [they] were little kids.”
These conversations with the soccer seniors, together with their brilliant displays of soccer during Saturday’s games, exemplify why these plays have helped foster a family-like ethos around soccer at Drew University. The class of 2020 Drew University soccer players can leave proud, not only because of their caps, and many wins, but with the awareness that they have inspired the upcoming Ranger players to remember that the game is more than just a competition; it’s about connection.