Men’s soccer looks for turnaround

Lucas Marino puts the ball in the net for his second goal of the season and the difference in a 1-0 Southern win.

Lucas Marino puts the ball in the net for his second goal of the season and the difference in a 1-0 Southern win.

After a rocky start to its fall season the Lions men’s soccer team has turned things around.

The Lions started with a record of 0-6-1, as of Sept. 19, with their only tie coming in a game in which neither team scored.

But everything changed in one kick when Lucas Merino, freshman forward/midfielder, scored a first-half goal against John Brown University leading the Lions to their second tie of the season.

“Getting that first goal out of the way last Wednesday night was a big boost to the team,” said Travis Haight, senior goalkeeper. “The ball just seems to be bouncing our way. We’re just clicking on all cylinders right now.”

Since that second tie, the Lions have won back-to-back games.

Their first win came against Truman State University on Friday Sept. 22 with a score of 1-0. The goal was scored by Neil Stoessel, junior forward/midfielder, on a penalty kick 4:32 into overtime. Haight also made two saves in that game, winning him SSC Player of the Week honors.

Then the Lions beat Ouachita Baptist on Sept. 26 by another 1-0 score. The goal was scored by Lucas Merino, giving him his second goal of the season. Haight also made six saves in the game.

After the big turnaround, head coach Kiley Cirillo said he credits his team’s change in pace to “having a positive outlook, and being motivated.”

He said his players have come out practice after practice and have been “willing to make the changes necessary.”

“We finally started putting the ball in the back of the net,” Cirillo said.

And although the Lions’ record isn’t looking good right now, Cirillo said his team has plenty of time to turn things around and make it into postseason play.

“Of the teams we play, probably six of those teams are in the top 25,” Cirillo said. “And three of the teams in our five-team conference have been in the top 25 at some point in time this year. And we play each of them twice.”

The Lions next three games will be on the road. The first will be on Tuesday at Northeastern (Okla.) State followed by a weekend road trip to Colorado where they will play Colorado-Colorado Springs on Friday and Colorado State-Pueblo on Sunday.