Nov. 9, 2012
GALESBURG—The 2012 Carl Sandburg College men’s soccer team laid a solid foundation for what figures to be a bright future.
After the program took one year off, the Chargers opened a new era with a first-year coach and a roster with just one returning player. It ended with a school record for wins, a winning record in division play and hope that the best is yet to come after a 5-5-1 season.
“This was a great team — just young and inexperienced,” Chargers coach Allen Eskridge said. “We played some great soccer this year. Overall, our biggest challenge was consistency, which will come with experience. This season helps tremendously in establishing an identity, expectations and a reputation for success.”
After a 3-0 loss to Scott in the team’s opener, Sandburg rattled off four straight victories, the last three by shutout.
“I think we caught some teams by surprise,” Eskridge said. “They all have a great desire to win, and when we follow the game plan and execute, we win.”
The Chargers eventually rolled to a 5-2 start, capped by a 5-3 come-from-behind win at Elgin despite playing a man down for much of the second half.
“Without a doubt the Elgin trip was the highlight of the season,” Eskridge said. “It was one of the most exciting and inspiring games I've ever been a part of. We knew Elgin was the superior team in talent, experience and depth.”
Injuries and a short bench helped keep Sandburg winless in its final four matches, but the Chargers played inspired soccer even in their 2-1 loss to Kankakee in the opening round of the Region IV tournament.
“We played one of our best games all season in our playoff game,” Eskridge said. “It's disappointing when you do everything you need to do to win except score more goals than the other team. Still, I'm happy we went out with our best effort, just not our best execution.”
The Chargers will lose sophomore Kevin Aka, who scored a team-best nine goals in 11 games, but they’ll return nearly everyone else from this year’s squad, including captain Connor Benson and goalkeeper Collin Jeffcoat, who started every game this season.
“I am primarily looking forward to having a lot more leadership, experience and depth to work with next year,” Eskridge said. “I have two of my three captains returning and we have a solid foundation that we will improve on. There are definitive goals that we want to accomplish next year and I know my guys will be working very hard during the off season to make sure they are prepared to accomplish them.”