In the final game of their season, the Trinity men’s soccer team traveled to the University of Chicago to take on the Maroons, who entered the tournament with the No. 3 national ranking.
Sophomore team captain Quentin Van Der Lee explains that the team’s preparation for the game began long before they stepped onto the Chicago field.
“We had tied with Chicago earlier in the season, so we knew they were a high-level team. We wanted to play our best, and we felt confident that we had improved since the first time we played them. We flew into Chicago on Thursday night, had an hour-long practice Friday morning and later that night had a film session to go over our game plan. We had an early team meeting on Saturday and got to the field about two hours before the game to prepare and warm up,” Van Der Lee said.
In the first half of the game, the Tigers led off play by dominating offensive possession, taking nine shots overall. Due to the strong defensive performance of Jacob Galan, Roman Cano, Brady Johnston and Kyle Davis, the Maroons were only able to take five. Neither team was able to score prior to halftime.
Sophomore forward Andrea Codispoti recall that although the weather conditions were particularly difficult, the team performed well.
“We are a team that likes to play on the ground and play pretty [well] overall. During the game, there was a mixture of rain and snow coming down pretty hard, so the field surface was slick. We couldn’t dribble or possess much, and ended up relying on our athleticism,” Codispoti said.
In the second half of the game, U Chicago rallied to score twice within six minutes, while the Tigers were unable to record a single shot.
“In the first half, we dominated the game. We had quite a few corner kicks and free kicks, and had great opportunities to score on a couple of them. Despite our near misses, we were playing really well. In the second half, we didn’t change anything, but Chicago just came out as a better team. In the end, they capitalized on their chances and were able to score the goals,” Codispoti said.
Overall, the Trinity men’s soccer team enjoyed a successful season, finishing with a 17–2–3 record. With their advancement to the National playoffs this year, the team also extended their record to 17 consecutive appearances in the NCAA postseason.
Notably, senior Austin Michaelis led the team in goals for the season with 11 overall. Michaelis served as a team captain on this year’s squad and earned All-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) First Team honors for the third straight year. In his four years at Trinity, Michaelis scored 43 goals total, ending his career ranked seventh on Trinity’s all-time scoring list.
Given his remarkable consistency throughout the season, Van Der Lee was selected for the SCAC All-Tournament Team and for the All-SCAC First Team. Junior defender Brady Johnston was also selected for the All-SCAC First Team, adding to his impressive list of accolades for the year, which includes SCAC Men’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Year and the SCAC Tournament Offensive Most Valuable Player.
Sophomore center midfielder Jacob Hallenberger led the team in assists with 11 total. He attributes this statistic to the finishing capabilities of his teammates.
“It’s a cool stat, but I was just doing what I could to contribute to the team’s play. It really means nothing more than a tally mark to me because my main goal will always be helping my team win games,” Hallenberger said.
Junior goalkeeper Blake Lieberman recorded a total of 60 saves in the season. Codispoti led the team in shots, taking 71 over the course of 22 games. With his impressive performance this fall, Codispoti was selected to represent Trinity on the All-SCAC Second Team.
This season was Codispoti’s first as a Trinity Tiger. He came into the program as a transfer from Division I Hofstra University.
“When I first visited Trinity, I primarily noticed the team’s close relationship. It was a family atmosphere rather than just a sports program, which is something that was missing from my last school. Coming in as a new member to the team, I was hoping to make an impact with my play. I wanted to learn about my teammates, make friends and try to understand what they were aiming to achieve. Based on that, I hoped to help them accomplish their goals,” Codispoti said.
Van Der Lee explains that the bar was set high for the 2018 season.
“This year, our goals as a team were to win the national championship and maintain an undefeated record in conference play. Going into the offseason and our competition next year, we’ll continue pushing ourselves to work harder to achieve these goals,” van der Lee said.
Hallenberger believe that much of the team’s success in the next year will be determined by their work ethic in the offseason.
“The marginal gains we’re able to make in the spring will determine whether we are ready to compete at a high level next year. Going into the next season, I’d like to see our team stay in the mentality of a dogfight no matter what the circumstances are. Whether we’re up against a higher ranked team, down in a game or the balls just aren’t bouncing our way, I’d like to see us battle every minute,” Hallenberger said.
For most members of the class of 2019, this was their last season on the Trinity men’s soccer team. Among those in this year’s graduating class are McCaleb Taylor, Austin Michaelis, Liam Looney, Oswaldo Veloz and Kyle Reynoso.
Senior goalkeeper McCaleb Taylor — a communication major from Fort Worth — has enjoyed a unique journey through the Trinity soccer program.
“When I was looking at my college choices, Trinity stood out to me because I liked every aspect of the school. I liked the academic programs, the campus environment and the fact that it was in a primarily residential area. The soccer program had a great winning history, and I was excited to have the opportunity to play under coach McGinlay, who really has a legendary reputation,” Taylor said.
During his first year at on the team, Taylor found himself challenged by the competitiveness of the program.
“When considering joining a program as successful as Trinity’s, you have to realize that everyone on this team was the best player on their high school team. In order to get any playing time, you need to be the best of the best. During my first season, I wasn’t chosen to dress out for the SCAC conference championship or the first round of the NCAA tournament. Although I was disappointed, I took it as a challenge to improve my playing. I really pushed myself for a few weeks and ended up making the roster for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds. I still remember reading the email and just screaming and calling my dad immediately. It was one of the defining moments in my soccer career, because it was the first time I could really see my hard work pay off,” Taylor said.
Taylor was initially recruited for the program as a center back, but ended up switching to the position of goalkeeper in his junior year.
“Strategically, my role on the team changed significantly. When coach McGinlay asked me if I could switch to the position of goalkeeper, my response was a definite yes. I’d do anything for this team, and my experience with them has taught me the importance of going outside of my comfort zone,” Taylor said.
Although Taylor’s playing position has changed, he has maintained a steady presence as a source of support for his teammates.
“In my underclassman years, I was really just one of the guys. In my junior and senior years, I started to take a role as a leader in faith, and I now lead a Bible study with some members of the team. Rather than concentrating completely on getting playing time in games, I’ve focused more of my energy into being a teammate that can be a source of comfort and advice,” Taylor said.
Overall, Taylor believes that the character and commitment of the senior class has left a unique impact on the program.
“I think our class has contributed to the understanding that our team is extremely competitive. We have a group that are willing to work hard and have helped drill that mentality into the younger guys. Trinity soccer has taught me that there are multiple roles in a team, and every part needs the other parts to function well. There is no experience better than playing for Trinity soccer, and I will always support this team through anything, ” Taylor said.