While the Swarthmore varsity soccer teams are set to begin their conference campaigns, another competitive soccer team at Swarthmore has begun its season in earnest. Four matches into its 10 game season, the Men’s Club Soccer Team has posted a 2-2 record to date.
Despite the team’s .500 record, which equals its mark from all of last season, co-captain Toby Cavalier ’19 remains optimistic. He believes that the team has progressed over the past year, both in terms of its roster and its structure. The team added 10 first-years this year, while improving its organization and preparation regimen. However, Cavalier is also realistic about the team’s chances.
“We’re not yet structured enough and disciplined enough to do really well. This year, I think we’re doing better than last year, and I think we will continue to do better throughout the year. However, I don’t know if it will be enough to get to regionals.”
Nonetheless, he hopes that as the team continues to grow, it will begin to compete for the divisional crown and eventually become a force in regionals, as well.
The club soccer team boasts one of the strongest rosters of the Swarthmore’s club sports. While the team includes players of all skill levels, about half of the team has either participated at the varsity level or could compete at the varsity level. Dimitri Kondelis ’20 is one of those who tried out for the varsity team when he first arrived on campus. During tryouts, he decided varsity wasn’t for him.
“I realized I didn’t want that time commitment and stress during my college career. So when I found out about club soccer, I knew it was the perfect fit,” says Kondelis.
He particularly enjoys that the team provides a competitive atmosphere that does not require its players to show up to practice every single day. The team practices three times per week in addition to weekend games.
While the team has a more relaxed practice schedule than its varsity counterpart, it is by no means simply a social club offering Physical Education credit (one can fulfill about half of their PE requirement from club soccer). The team plays all 10 of its games during the fall season, and the team’s captains, Cavalier and Tobin Feldman-Fitzthum ’19, run highly structured practices that include warm-ups, technical drills, small-sided games, and larger intra-squad matches. Often, however, when the team does not have an upcoming fixture, the captains allow the players to scrimmage for the entire practice. Organizing practice as such enables players on the team to stay in shape, improve their skills, and have fun with a group of soccer-minded friends.
Off the pitch, members of the team bond and spend time together in a similar fashion to the varsity sports teams on campus. Kondelis discusses how club soccer has impacted his social life at Swarthmore.
“Because I’m a part of club soccer, I have a group of guys on campus that I can study with, that I can eat with, that I can hang out with.”
The team’s great camaraderie draws many people. Nearly all of the students interviewed pointed to brotherhood and friendship as some of their favorite aspects of the club.
However, due to club soccer’s non-club status, the team faces many challenges. Currently, the team is designated as a student activity group rather than a club sport. This designation makes obtaining practice space difficult.
“We have to fight for field space and have lower priority than all of the varsity teams,” explains Cavalier.
Presently, ultimate frisbee, rugby, and all of the other official club sports have preference when reserving Cunningham Field, the club’s primary practice facility.
Despite the challenges associated with the team’s present status, men’s club soccer continues to grow, both in size and competition. For those interested in supporting club soccer, the team plays two home games on Sept. 23 against Widener University and Millersville University.