Soccer finishes season strong

Men’s soccer wrapped up its season with a win against Willamette University on Nov. 6.
The ’Cats clawed their way to a 2-0 victory on a waterlogged home field.
Freshman forward Tyler Repic assisted a goal by senior midfielder Michel Camacho in the ninth minute to put the ’Cats on the score board.
Senior midfielder Kevin Donato added a goal in the 25th minute, receiving a pass from Camacho and lacing a shot into the net.
Both teams attempted 14 shots, but sturdy work from senior goalkeeper Jon Thompson kept the Bearcats at bay.
Thompson was a brick wall for the ’Cats, tallying a season-high 10 saves in his first shutout victory of the season.
Camacho said that he liked the team’s focus against Willamette.
“I thought we came out and possessed the ball as well as we have all season. We grabbed control of the game early, not necessarily just with the goal but through possession,” he said. “We limited their chances and gave ourselves better opportunities to score. Getting that early goal changes things. It’s a boost of confidence and puts the pressure on them as opposed to us.”
The ’Cats finish the season with an 8-9-1 overall record and a 7-7 conference record.
Despite the loss of some core players, head coach Ian Lefebvre said the future is bright for the ’Cats.
“The future’s good. I think we were able to get some really good experience to some younger guys this year,” he said. “It was nice to be able to be competing for conference with three weeks left. We had something to play for and hopefully that gets passed on to the younger group.”
Camacho said the team is in capable hands.
“For the future, I think, defensively, the team will stay strong. A very good goalie in Tipton will return, and the entire back line will be back,” he said.
Camacho added that he’s confident that next year’s players will step up.
“There will be spots to fill in the midfield, senior Carter [Elhabbassi] will be a big loss. There has to be a couple guys to step up and score goals next year. The team is definitely capable of success, it’s just a matter of learning to take care of those games and making the necessary adjustments,” he said.
“I feel like there’s a lot of positives we can take from this year,” Donato said. “Obviously there’s still work that needs to be done and positions to be filled, but I feel like it’s a good learning experience for the younger guys.”
The ’Cats will lose their leading goal scorer in Camacho, their assist leader in Donato and a strong goalie in Thompson. But Donato points to strong leadership as a positive from the season and a possible key to next season.
“Leadership is one thing that I noticed that was pretty impressive,” Donato said, “even from the underclassmen, which is big.”
He added that he expects that junior defender Wil Hiles will be a key player next season.
“Wil [Hiles] will be a senior next year, and he was a big part of the defense. He should play a big role next year, and I’m sure he’ll do a good job with that,” he said.
Another player that Donato said impressed him was freshman midfielder Michael Swain.
“I saw a lot of improvement from day one to the last game,” Donato said. “Probably, to me, he’s one of the most improved players. The team has obvious strengths heading into next season,“ Camacho said.

Matt Bayley/Staff reporter
Matt Bayley can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

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