Men’s soccer kicks off season unblemished

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Bethel’s Martin Ruiz sends in a corner kick during Wednesday night’s game against Goshen. The Pilots won 3-2. (Photo by Keith Cooper)

The Bethel Men’s soccer team continued it’s dominating play on Wednesday night with a 3-2 win over Goshen College. The Pilots came out aggressive and grabbed a 2-0 lead going into the half. The goals were scored by Sophomore Romulo Nobrega in the 25th minute and Senior Tim Jenkinson added another seven minutes later. What looked to be another dominant victory for the Pilots quickly unraveled. Goshen quickly scored two goals in the first ten minutes of the second half to tie the game up at 2-2. The Pilots answered back in a hurry with a go ahead goal from Junior Martin Ruiz. The goal ended up being the game winner as the Pilots defense put the clamps on the Goshen offense for the rest of the way. With the win the Pilots have now won nine straight games and are 1-0-0 in the Mid-Central Conference.

The Pilots are off to a blazing start this season. Wednesday night’s win improved the team’s overall record to 9-0-1. They have two wins against top 20 ranked NAIA teams and are now ranked #12 in the NAIA themselves after beginning the year unranked. New head coach Thiago Pinto came in last spring to replace Greg Gidman, and has done a wonderful job so far. After being one win away from going to the NAIA National Tournament last season, they seem to have Fresno (location for NAIA Nationals) on the mind. The Pilot offense is scoring a frenzy of goals this season and their defense is playing just as well. The Pilots have scored 26 goals while only relinquishing seven in their ten games this season. Freshman keeper Cody Troyer has held all but one of its opponents, Goshen College, to one goal or less with the help of the Pilot’s stellar defense. Expectations for the men’s soccer team are always high and they are going to keep on rising with each and every win.

Junior Zach Ganzberg is looking forward to the rest of the season.

“We got a really great group of guys this year and it feels good to win,” says Ganzberg. “I really hope we can advance all the way to NAIA Nationals as we were just a step short last season.”

Last year Bethel ended up winning the MCC Conference and advancing to a play in game for NAIA’s. They are really looking to push for more this year. With a mix of familiar and fresh faces, Coach Pinto seems to have found very strong lineups that not only can compete with every single team they have played against but also find a way to win those close games thus far.

In one instance though, the win didn’t come after a full game. When the Pilots were playing Judson University in the Waterford Estates Fall Classic, the game came to an abrupt stop with 32:10 remaining in the second half. The center official was no longer able to officiate and the Judson Coach did not want to continue the game with only two officials. NCAA rules, which govern NAIA soccer, allow for games to continue with only a two man officiating crew. The rules also state that 70 minutes have to be completed for the game to be considered official. The final score on the scoreboard when the game was called was Bethel leading Judson by a score of 3-0. The game is currently being reviewed by the NAIA for a final ruling on the outcome of the game.

Entering conference play with an undefeated record and being the defending conference champions puts a big target on the Pilots. The Pilot’s next game is Wednesday, Sep. 30 at Grace College. The next home game for the Pilots is Saturday Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. against conference foe Spring Arbor University.

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