As Goshen’s men’s soccer team suited up at Taylor University on Nov. 8 for the semifinal conference game, the atmosphere certainly didn’t feel like anaway game.
“Our fans made it feel like we were playing at home—we were louder and more enthusiastic,” Caleb Longenecker, a senior starter, said. “It definitely made it more exciting, and we wanted to make it a great game for all the people that showed up and believed in us.”
The amount of support from students was due in large part to the Residence Life team for organizing charter bus transportation for students. Katie Dwyer-Zeman, assistant director of residence life and student activities, agreed to ride along as a supervisor. The bus was a splurge, but was well used with 40 out of 48 seats being filled.
“I think it was hugely important for our students to have easy access to support our men’s soccer team on the road,” Dwyer-Zeman said. “It gives our students a great opportunity to represent Goshen College to other schools and show them how much we care about and support our student athletes.”
Belief in the men’s soccer team has been high all year, with the addition of a new coach and restructuring of the program helping to fill the stands almost every home game. It even proved enough to fill the stands at two away games in a row.
With a louder student section than Taylor’s, and evenly matched support from both Indiana Wesleyan and Goshen fans at the conference finals, Goshen College students proved they know how to bring together community, even two hours away on a record-cold night.
“[It] definitely helps in the second half to hear the fans cheering you on—makes you want to keep going and give them a good game,” Jadon Chupp, a sophomore starter, said. “We have such amazing fans and we could really feel that at both conference games.”
The Goshen fans also brought their energy to the conference championship game against Indiana Wesleyan University on Nov.15.
Though the men came up just short of claiming the championship, the fans were not deterred in any way, carrying right through to the end to sing, “We love you Goshen, we do.”
The traditions and character that make Goshen College’s soccer games unique were not lost or dampened by the weather, score or distance.
“I felt like I could actually influence the game by being loud and cheering with the rest of the fans,” Thomas Leonard, a senior, said. “It seemed like the players would respond to our energy in the stands, and we got to show the other schools how unique Goshen is.”
This was the first time the men’s soccer program has gotten to the conference finals in seven years and the students showed their excitement and pride in the players.
“When bus and carloads of students travel two hours one way, two Saturdays in a row, it’s because our students believe in our soccer team and appreciate the countless hours of hard work they put in all season,” Dwyer-Zeman said. “That says a lot.”