The Fresno State Men’s Soccer Club posing with the showcase trophy after finishing their season by winning the West Coast Soccer Association National Showcase League Cup on April 30, 2017. Photo by assistant coach Eduardo Aguirre. (Courtesy of the Fresno State Men’s Soccer Club)

Men’s soccer scores a championship

After a season of weak showings, the Fresno State Men’s Soccer Club finished its season by winning the West Coast Soccer Association National Showcase League Cup in Temecula, California on April 30.

Despite having scored only five goals the entire regular season, assistant coach Eduardo Aguirre said, the team went into tournament play with a strong energy and had a strong desire to win.

Aguirre said this championship was important because many of the team members are graduating. He wanted them to get a championship cup on their athletic resumes before playing their last game.

On the journey to the showcase, the team rivaled other club programs such as Stanford, Cal Poly, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and many more teams up and down the West Coast.

Aguirre said a positive mindset remained among the players throughout the season and going into the showcase.

“We really put our minds to it, and it all clicked finally,” he said.

During the season, the team had a total of five goals and lost games by a one-or-two goal deficit.

However, the team’s play changed. With 15 goals in four games during the showcase, Aguirre said he wasn’t shocked at the wins, but he was relishing in the moment for which his team had been waiting.

Aguirre said the win was the first step to fulfilling the hopes he has for the team.

“I love to see people develop,” Aguirre said. “Seeing the program develop into what it’s become, it’s actually really amazing.”

Before Aguirre was a coach, he was a member of the team in 2012.

“When I started, it was just some players running the team,” Aguirre said.

Now, he said the team has received long-awaited attention from Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro and the campus community.

“It’s just a stepping stone because, over all, we all want the NCAA team to come back to Fresno State,” Aguirre said.

In 2004, adherence to Title IX eliminated the men’s varsity soccer team. Title IX is a federal civil rights law mandating equity in men’s and women’s athletics at government institutions receiving federal funding. It sometimes left students to form their own club teams.

Club President Spencer Michaelson, who is a business administration major with an option in accounting, said he too is hoping the team will transition back to an NCAA team in the future.

“It helps build the soccer community in the Valley,” Michaelson said of the team’s possible future influence.

Shane Scarfeo, who is currently rehabilitating an injury, said watching his team from the sidelines was difficult because the athlete in him wants to be on the field. However, from the sidelines, he was able to see the talent on the team.

“Even though I got injured, the team kept moving forward,” Scarfeo said.

Scarfeo said that, as a captain, he needs to be there for his team as much as possible, injured or not.

Being a leader on the team, Scarfeo said despite running into some communication issues, he has learned from his team members about communication, and he said it’s something he will always take with him.

“If I didn’t have it,” Scarfeo said of the club, “I’d be totally lost.”

Looking to the future, Scarfeo said he knows the team will go far with its young talent.

“We have a really young squad so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was not the first of many trophies to come in the next three to four years,” Scarfeo said.

The team has two seasons: one in the fall and one in the spring. The fall season starts in August and ends in December, and the spring season starts in February and lasts until May.

Each season has eight games, and half of them are played at home in Fresno.

Scarfeo wants the campus community to come and watch the team represent Fresno State on the soccer field.

“We’re playing good soccer,” Scarfeo said. “And we put a good product on the field.”