Breakout season ends for men’s soccer

Freshman Rodrigo Gomes and Cole Brittain will once again lead the attack for the Vikings next year. They combined for 18 goals this season.
Jesse Belcher

Freshman Rodrigo Gomes and Cole Brittain will once again lead the attack for the Vikings next year. They combined for 18 goals this season.

With the Rolling Stones the only counterexample, all good things eventually do come to an end (knock on wood for the Stones’ sake). Such a conclusion came to the LU men’s soccer team in the form of an unfortunate 5-2 playoff loss last Friday versus regular season champion and eventual tournament champion St. Norbert.

A well-played first half saw the Vikings take a 1-0 lead off a long-distance Rodrigo Gomes chip that has steadily become his patented means of scoring this year.

“I could feel the win at halftime,” noted sophomore outside-mid “Bobbo” Spruell. But alas, ’twas not meant to be, as the host Green Knights blasted five second-half goals, three of which came within 1:13 of each other in the 69th and 70th minutes.

Lawrence’s other goal, despite its redundancy, was well received by the large blue-clad portion of the crowd. Junior Brendan Marshall-Rashid had stepped onto the pitch to hear his name being chanted by the LU fans. He promptly scored on a two-against-none breakaway alongside Richard “Twinkletoes” Amankwah.

Three seniors in Brian Payne, Mark Wendling, and Jesse Belcher, as well as devoted manager Dimitri Gooden, finished their LU careers on Friday and will forever remember the memories associated with their soccer careers.

As sad as it was to see the season end, it was also a time to celebrate what the team had accomplished over the last few months. This season saw the Vikings make the playoffs for the first time since the postseason’s inauguration in the early nineties. It also saw them hand St. Norbert their first loss to LU in 14 years, and only conference loss of the season.

A purely baffling home-field advantage trend was started this year as the team held a dominant 6-1-2 mark at Whiting Field. There was, without a doubt, more fan support this year than in recent past.

This reporter is unsure whether the creatively boisterous fans motivated the higher level of play, or if the crowd was drawn to games having heard of good soccer afoot. Nonetheless, it was a symbiotic relationship that both sides appeared to thrive upon and we should hope will continue in future years.

As sad as it is to see the departure of Coach Blake Johnson’s first freshman class, improvements from their 1-15 record in 2000 are unquestionable.

The team now looks toward the future. With its top-scoring, south-of-the-Mason-Dixon Line tandem of Gomes and Cole Brittain returning for three more years, goals may still be a commodity. As is evident by this year’s freshman class, Coach Johnson means business with his recruiting as well.

Could this be the beginning of a dynasty?