A year ago the Lewis and Clark men’s soccer team went to the NJCAA Division I National Championship Tournament and won one game in pool play. Now, the Trailblazers are 6-4, and returning forward Blake Cearns is out with an injury.
When asked how he felt about the year’s team, coach Rooney said, “Our chances are pretty good. We just have to figure out who can replace our top scorer, who is out with a torn ACL.”
Cearns earned NJCAA Division I Second Team All-American honors and NJCAA Junior College Division I Men’s First Team All North Region honors in 2015. He was tenth in the nation last year with 23 goals scored, and also scored the game-winning goal against Hill Community College at the National Tournament. Unfortunately, Cearns’ 2016 season was cut short by a torn ACL.
The men’s soccer team finished the 2015 regular season 18-4-1 before going to the National Tournament where they beat Hill College from Hillsboro, Texas, 2-1 in the first game.
Tournament play ended after the second game of pool play against Pima Community College out of Tucson, Arizona, when the Trailblazers experienced a 4-1 loss. However, the players and the coaches still received many honors.
Goalie Nick Johnson was named to NJCAA Junior College Division I Men’s First Team All North Region. Returning midfielder Lochlan Reus was named as a NJCAA Second Team All-American. Head coach Tim Rooney was named Men’s NJCAA Division I North Region Coach of the Year, and assistant coach Ryan Hodge was named NJCAA Junior College Assistant Coach of the Year for the Central Region.
When asked how he thought Cearns’ injury will impact this season, assistant coach Hodge said, “It is hard to replace such a good player as Blake. He creates a problem for our opponents due to his speed, size and ability to finish. He not only is a great player but he is one of our leaders on the field.
“We don’t expect one person to take on the burden to replace all of what Blake brought to the table,” Hodges said. “We as a team need to work harder, and this goal can only be achieved by multiple, different people. Hopefully, players such as freshmen Rhys Saunders, sophomore Justin Stinson, sophomore Lochlan Reus, sophomore Nick Harper and sophomore Markell Saddler can step up big for us. Blake is a big loss for us, and we can tell it hurt in the beginning. But, the boys are adjusting and starting to play much better.”
The 2016 season started with two games at Essex, Maryland. Both games were losses, one to Monroe College (3-1) and the other to ASA New York (2-0).
The team won three games in a row by beating Lindenwood-Belleville 7-1 at home and Central Methodist 4-1 and St. Charles Community College 1-0, both on the road.
On their sixth game of the 2016 season against St. Louis Community College, the team lost 3-0. But, the Trailblazers had games at SWIC against Johnson Community College (6-1) and SWIC (3-0), which were both wins. On Sept. 20, the Trailblazers led the Lincoln Land Loggers by two points at the half and won 4-1.
The regular season will conclude in mid-October. To see a schedule or learn more about men’s soccer at L&C, visit www.lc.edu/athletics.