Category Archives: Men’s Soccer

Cleope brothers make waves at UNW

Chris Cleope (left) and Mark Cleope (right) have combined for five goals and eight assists this season for the Northwestern Eagles. Chris Cleope’s three goals and six assists are both team highs for the Eagles (photo by Tatyana Breitkreuz).

By Tatyana Breitkreuz

There’s no denying soccer is in their blood.  The dark-haired brothers compete together as starting forwards for the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.  Chris Cleope, a senior computer science major, and Mark Cleope, a freshman electronic media communications major, discovered the game of soccer at a young age.  Living the majority of their childhood years in Manila, Philippines, as missionary kids and attending their school Faith Academy, the brothers gained athletic skills from their school’s soccer team as well as a local soccer camp called Hat Trick.

Chris Cleope (left) and Mark Cleope (right) have combined for five goals and eight assists this season for the Northwestern Eagles. Chris Cleope’s three goals and six assists are both team highs for the Eagles (photo by Tatyana Breitkreuz).

Chris Cleope (left) and Mark Cleope (right) have combined for five goals and eight assists this season for the Northwestern Eagles. Chris Cleope’s three goals and six assists are both team highs for the Eagles (photo by Tatyana Breitkreuz).

“There was one person who taught me a lot about the sport and his name was Claud,” said Chris Cleope. “He taught every single skill possible when I was younger and even challenged people to beat him at his own game…stuff like that made me try even harder.”

As youth, soccer wasn’t the only means of connectedness for the Cleopes. Being the two youngest out of four siblings, including sister Lauren Cleope, who played on the University of Northwestern women’s soccer team, Chris Cleope and Mark Cleope have a strong bond.

“We are quite close,” Chris Cleope agreed. “We went to the same high school and now college. We tell each other basically everything, and we can make each other laugh with our simple dance moves and our secret jokes.”

Of course there were typical sibling arguments, but as Chris Cleope explained, “That’s what brothers do.” In college, if there are any arguments, they’re mainly about miscommunication on the field.

The Cleopes both began attending Northwestern this fall, as Chris Cleope is a transfer from the University of Dubuque and Mark Cleope is a freshman. Greg Wheaton, the head men’s soccer coach at Northwestern, was excited to have them both join the team. He had been attempting to recruit Chris Cleope when he was a freshman because of his sister Lauren Cleope, who had played for the Northwestern women’s soccer team a few years before.

“As Mark was coming around, I recruited him pretty hard,” said Wheaton. “Mark really liked it and felt right at home. Chris then came around and transferred to be with his brother. I won both in a sense because I had been trying to get Chris.”

Lauren Cleope is one of her brothers’ biggest fans. It brings her joy to see them pursue the same sport that has been such an influential part of her own life.

“We all have the same passion for the game,” Lauren Cleope said. “It’s super sweet to see Chris and Mark playing collegiate soccer together where I started that Cleope legacy at UNW. I love that both of my younger brothers are playing at my alma mater, but also that they are continuing to step on that pitch every day, playing for Jesus and winning the testimony.”

Collegiate soccer was a transition for the two sibling athletes. While high school had fewer practices and was not as physical, DIII college soccer is more competitive but also more fun. Whether it’s competition of who can score more goals or celebrating with each other after games, the Cleopes love having each other around.

Men's soccer has played extremely competitively in 2016 (photo by Christa Gullickson).

Men’s soccer has played extremely competitively in 2016 (photo by Christa Gullickson).

“Practice is always the best part of the day because I can just come out and have fun with the team: it’s the best sport there is,” said Chris Cleope.

“It’s fun playing together, because of the chemistry,” Mark Cleope explained. “That’s what makes us good. It’s fun to play around with someone you can have fun and mess around with.”

Currently, the brothers are both starters for the Northwestern men’s soccer team this fall.  When playing as forwards or midfielders, the Cleope brothers show to be strong players.  Chris Cleope spoke of his brother’s strengths, saying that he has good pacing with the ball, has a good jumping ability, has an accurate vision of the field and can anticipate where others are on the field, even when he’s not looking.  Mark Cleope stated that his brother can dribble well, is very skillful with the ball and can win every ball in the air.

“Mark is a strong, smart forward,” said Wheaton. “He’s super hardworking, competitive, and technically strong. Chris is a gifted player, athletically and technically. He is a pretty dynamic player.” Wheaton mentioned that he was blessed to have the brothers on the team.

Within the first month of the fall 2016 season, Chris Cleope scored three goals with an impressive six assists, and new-to-collegiate-sports Mark Cleope has already claimed two goals and two assists for the team.  Though the brothers are each talented in their own, unique ways, they both admit they couldn’t be the athlete they are without the other.

“[Chris] is there when I need help, and he’s always caring on and off the field,” said Mark Cleope. “He’s smart, encouraging and tells me to do my homework. He’s making me a better player every day by challenging me and having fun.”

“He makes me want to play the game,” added Chris about his brother. Chris also explained that they challenge one another to score goals, for if one scores, the other feels more determined to score as well.

While having a sibling compete alongside you on the same team isn’t rare, Chris and Mark Cleope’s ability to get along, execute plays and score with the help of one another are what make this brotherhood truly special. It’s evident that with their love of soccer comes a greater love for each other.

Northwestern keeper experiences a season of change

Main (00) has earned 49 saves and a shutout in his junior year in goal for the Eagles. The experienced keeper has been a crucial part of the Eagles’ success for the past three seasons (photo courtesy of unweagles.com).

by Tatyana Breitkreuz

Decked in Adidas and neon, the goalie shouts directions to his defensive force, preparing for the onslaught of the opponent.  After some quick swerving and sidestepping, an undefended attacker drives the ball toward the goal. The goalie sees the lone forward approaching and begins rushing toward the ball. Only a second before the attacker takes a shot does the goalie, with perfect timing, smother the ball into his body as he slides across the damp grass. That’s one save by the goalie, and one save for the team.

The UNW men’s soccer goalkeeper may look recognizable, but he isn’t the man he was last year.  Junior Turner Main has found himself inside the penalty box as a goalkeeper since his freshman year at Northwestern, but it wasn’t until last year that he faced his most challenging opponent yet: sophomore slump.

Main (00) has earned 49 saves and a shutout in his junior year in goal for the Eagles. The experienced keeper has been a crucial part of the Eagles’ success for the past three seasons (photo courtesy of unweagles.com).

Main (00) has earned 49 saves and a shutout in his junior year in goal for the Eagles. The experienced keeper has been a crucial part of the Eagles’ success for the past three seasons (photo courtesy of unweagles.com).

“I just came back from a year where I started the back half of my freshman year and had earned second team all-conference,” said Main. “I felt like I was the best goalkeeper in the conference and let things go to my head.”

This slump seeped into Main’s soccer career, especially when the team wasn’t performing as he had hoped.

“I felt like I was above some people on my team and that I knew what I was doing more than them,” admitted Main. “When I messed up, I tended to blame it on someone else or yell at them instead of instructing and encouraging my team. It wasn’t constructive at all.”  The frustrated sophomore athlete didn’t just keep this attitude on the field but let it trickle into his academic life as well.

“Last year I slept through a lot of my classes,” mentioned Main, a marketing student at Northwestern. According to Main, he never really felt present in school. He wasn’t fond of chapel, he had a continual negative attitude toward his classmates and he wasn’t fulfilled by the “Christian atmosphere” that he saw his friends thriving on. However, to Main’s surprise, he still managed to earn decent grades in his classes.  If it wasn’t for one of his best friends and teammate sophomore LeRoy Malone, he probably wouldn’t have had the motivation to keep going.

During the summer following the year of his sophomore slump, Main had one of the best game plays of his life. In May, he joined the Chicago Eagles, a ministry group based in Illinois that trains athletes to share the Gospel through the environment of soccer, which took a group of soccer players down to São Gonçalo, Brazil, to lead a Christian-based soccer camp for young athletes. Main was surrounded by others who, while they didn’t have their lives together, had a relationship with Christ, which encouraged him to improve his walk with God.

“Our identity is not in soccer it’s in Christ,” stated Main.  “My walk with Christ is improving my soccer because I’m happier now. It’s the best soccer I’ve played in my life.” He also mentioned the joy he has playing the game. “There are great guys on the team it’s hard not to have fun!”

Recently, Main was honored with the UMAC Player of the Week award.

“It was cool as a goalie to get [the award], but I knew without my defense, I wouldn’t be able to get it.”

Main has had a complete transformation. Along with his better technique, handling of the ball, and a fun-loving and encouraging attitude, he knows that as long as he keeps his attitude in check, he’ll never go back to the days of sophomore slump.

“This year I would say that Turner is more Christ-centered and more respectful toward everyone both on and off the soccer field,” Malone said. “Turner has changed for the better. Oh, and ladies, he is single.”

“In a way, it was kind of good to have a bad year, but it wasn’t fun,” noted Main. Whether it’s a breakout game like at St. Thomas with 10 saves, or a game that’s more of a fight, Main has made it a goal to enjoy the game like it’s his last because to him, it’s the best soccer he’s ever played.

“It’s short and simple,” shared Main. “Play for Jesus. It shows why we’re here. I like it just as much as [Northwestern’s] ‘Compete with Purpose.’”

Two seniors’ dreams played out on the field

Men's soccer has played extremely competitively in 2016 (photo by Christa Gullickson).

by Tatyana Breitkreuz

The crisp blow of the whistle is what began two University of Northwestern- St. Paul seniors’ journeys as college soccer athletes.

Adam Molohon and Eric Fast came to UNW with a dream: to play college soccer. Each have a special devotion to the sport that they dedicate hours of hard running to each day. As kids, college soccer seemed so far away, so unreachable. But as the athletes grew older, their goals grew bigger and so did their love for the sport.

Joining the Northwestern soccer team was the destination for both Eagle athletes, but the routes they took to get there had different twists and turns.

I played at a highly competitive level,” said Fast, who is currently part of the Minnesota Thunder Academy competitive traveling team. “There really wasn’t much to adjust to. The only difference I saw between the two was that college soccer was more reliant on physical abilities rather than technical. So adjusting to it that wasn’t difficult.”

Men's soccer has played extremely competitively in 2016. The Eagles drew with nationally ranked St. Olaf and lost in the 105th minute to a powerful St. Thomas squad (photo by Christa Gullickson).

Men’s soccer has played extremely competitively in 2016. The Eagles drew with nationally ranked St. Olaf and lost in the 105th minute to a powerful St. Thomas squad (photo by Christa Gullickson).

For Molohon, his years prior to Northwestern were dedicated to playing for North St. Paul High School as well as being a member of the St. Croix Soccer Club. “I’ve played all my life,” recounted Molohon, “but I had to step up with making my touches better and decisions quicker along with being more physical.”

Looking back, years as underclassmen don’t seem too long ago for Molohon and Fast. Whether it was the sensations they felt within or around themselves, their early soccer days were unforgettable.

“The first time I played was my freshman year against St. Thomas,” Molohon reminisced. “I was nervous at first, but once I got my first touch on the ball, the nerves went away. I felt good because I played well and was able to say I was a college athlete.”

Fast remembers the late night games at UNW’s fully-lit Reynolds Field.

“I love the night games, playing under the lights of our new facility. My freshman year, we didn’t have that. Being able to play on the new field the past three years is amazing.”

Both soccer players believe that among other things, lifelong friendships are what were gained and most cherished from the sport.

“I’m going to miss the whole atmosphere of college soccer,” said Fast. “The hype, preparation for the game, and the actual game. Everything will be missed walking away from the college level of soccer.”

Molohon also mentioned one of the unforgettable perks of being on the team. “I’m going to miss being able to go to Fogo de Chao twice a year for way cheaper than usual.”

Gruesome late-night practices. Cleats sinking into dewy-coated turf. The rapping of the net enveloping the ball. As the clock is counting down to its final seconds, the men have only a few short months of their college soccer career.

College flies fast, everyone would tell them, but after over 60 games played combined, these Eagle athletes aren’t about to walk off the field quite yet.

“With this being my senior year, I definitely want to go out with no regrets,” said Molohon. “This season is all about leaving it on the field, working hard, and enjoying my last season as a college soccer player.” He added, “I really want to score a goal, since I have not scored one yet in college.”

Fast commented, “As a team, we are definitely looking very strong, and I hope we can continue that through the season. He added, “My personal goal is to end the season by being known on the field- get the other team talking about me, because I’m a threat.”

With only a handful of games left, the seniors will compete with purpose as Northwestern Eagles soccer players up to the sound they know all too well:

Three long whistle blows.

Sports complex sparks excitement

New Stadium

“These facilities will host student athletes, intramurals, physical education classes, and
the general public,” said Matt Hill, vice president for Student Life and Athletics.

by Megan Whiting

The University of Northwestern – St. Paul welcomes a new and improved sports complex to the campus this fall. Athletes and fans alike are pumped and ready to use the high quality athletic facilities.

“The complex provides three multi-purpose turf fields with lights (softball, baseball, football/soccer/lacrosse) and six tennis courts. Included in the new facility are bathrooms, concessions stands and four locker rooms. These facilities will host student athletes, intramurals, physical education classes and the general public,” said Matt Hill, vice president for Student Life and Athletics.

Read more ...

FCA forming on campus

FCA is a great way for athletes to connect and grow in their faith (photo by Andy Haagenson).

FCA is a great way for athletes to connect and grow in their faith (photo by Andy Haagenson).

 by Allison Morehead

The University of Northwestern – St. Paul has officially created its own campus chapter of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). FCA is a nationwide organization that brings athletes together to worship and grow in their faith.

“I’m so excited for FCA to be coming to campus,” said freshman Kelsey Freitag.

FCA student leader Sara Kallhoff said, “It’s a time where student athletes can come together, talk and grow closer to the Lord through our connection of sports.”

Zach Filzen, the women’s basketball assistant coach, is working with FCA along with a student leader, Jake Knotek. Filzen and Knotek were the ones credited with the original idea of bringing FCA to UNW.

Knotek said, “He (Filzen) and I were just talking about FCA one day and realized the need and potential for it, so God put it on our hearts to go for it.  We realized that there really isn’t much unity among the Eagle athletes, and we often think we have enough spiritual fillers going on in our lives.  I know I could always use more.”

This will be the first FCA in Northwestern’s history. “I think in the past people haven’t felt a need for FCA since each sports team does their own devotionals within the team, and there are so many other ways to get involved,” explained Filzen.

Students will now have the opportunity to join a sports-related organization without the requirement of being involved in a Northwestern sport. FCA is open to anyone who is involved in a sport, or who has a love for sports.

Filzen stated, “Spread the word and come to the meeting with some friends.”

The first meeting will be held on Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ericksen Center.  There will be games, worship, small groups and a message.  Food will be provided.

For further information, students can follow the University of Northwestern – St. Paul FCA group on Twitter at @FCA_UNW or like its Facebook page.

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