The Columbia College men’s soccer team will try to turn their drop in the NAIA poll into motivation to beat William Jewell College this weekend.
Saturday’s match will be the second home game for the Cougars this year. Columbia College (4-2) has not lost a game at Owens Soccer Stadium since Nov. 13, 2002, in the Region V semifinal game against Graceland University. The game was an overtime tie that was decided by penalty kicks.
The Cardinals (3-0-1) come into the game ranked higher than the Cougars in the NAIA poll. The Cardinals also replaced Columbia College as the No. 2 team in Region V. With a win, Columbia College is hoping that it will once again rank second in the region.
The Cougar’s coach and players aren’t too concerned about their drop in the rankings. The team will try to use the fall as incentive to play well against the Cardinals.
“I don’t think it should even affect the team at all, really” said coach John Klein. “If anything, I guess it should motivate them to, you know, play against the now second-place team in the region.”
For Justin Robinson, a freshman midfielder, the game against William Jewell takes on a personal meaning.
“It’s a big game for me,” Robinson said. “I got a couple buddies that play for (William Jewell).”
Robinson comes into the game having scored a goal in each of the team’s last two matches. He got his second goal of the season Tuesday when the Cougars beat Benedictine College 1-0. Robinson scored the goal with less than two minutes left.
Robinson is still recovering from a sprained right ankle. He injured it Sept. 4 in a game against Southern Nazarene University. Robinson, who wasn’t supposed to play, was in for 15 minutes against Benedictine as a result.
Robinson sat on the sidelines of practice since Tuesday’s game. The amount of playing time Robinson will see Saturday hasn’t been determined yet. But he said that he’ll be ready to play.
“It’s really up to the coach how he wants to use me,” Robinson said.
Not since Oct. 20, 1993 have the Cougars, of the American Midwest Conference, played William Jewell. The Cardinals, members of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, lost the match 1-3.
“We’ve tried to play about three to four teams in the other conference, the Heart of America Conference, each year,” Klein said. “We like to play the premiere teams in their conference. Jewell has made great strides in recent years.”
Klein said he expects the Cardinals to come out with an organized and structured defense. He also said William Jewell likes to counter attack often. This may cause problems for the Cougars with their pressure style offense. Klein said his team is going to have to be careful not to get caught with too few defenders on their end of the field.
Junior defender Vladimir Roganovic said the defense is not going to let William Jewell dictate their play.
“We have our own formations that we are trying to play the whole season,” Roganovic said. “So, I guess, we won’t adjust for anybody. That’s the way we play.”
Klein is planning to start senior goalkeeper Steve Williams. He gets the nod over junior Nano Recondo, who recorded a shutout in his first start this season against Benedictine College.
One player the Columbia College defense will have to keep tabs on is senior midfielder Blake Ryan. On Monday, Ryan was named the HAAC and NAIA Region V player of the week. Ryan scored twice and had three assists for the Cardinals last week.
Last year, Blake was named as an NAIA All-American. He led the Cardinals with 18 goals and assists last year.