Coach Pill stated, “At the end of the season we were in top form, playing our best soccer. Games were attractive for our fans to watch!”
The Crusaders finished the season 7-12 with a 3-2 record in their last five games. Three of their seven wins came against NCAAIII opponents and two against NAC opponents Marian and Rockford.
In the NCCAA, the men’s team consistently competed in the top 10. Coach Pill said, “I am firmly convinced that we are a top five team nationally in the NCCAA.”
Their play in the NCCAA was evidenced by a 4-3 record, one of those games being a 2-1 loss to eventual NCCAA II Champion, Moody Bible. They eventually fell to Northland International in the Regional Tournament.
Coach Pill reflected on the 2011 season saying,
“We were able to play four different systems well and had a much deeper roster with more young guys contributing and putting in valuable practice time.”
One such example was freshman Hunter Scott, who played in the JV program at the beginning of the year and received varsity experience at the end of the year. Scott and other young players such as Drew DeLozier and Josh Knoedler gave Coach Pill talent to build on.
The recently added JV program has been a major factor in the development of players like Scott as Pill noted,
“The JV program allows players with less experience to play in an appropriate environment for their development as they become accustomed to the increased demands of college level play. The JV team we had this year was our best since I’ve been here and they could be something special next year.”
In addition to the JV success, a soccer culture is increasingly apparent in this year’s squad.
“More guys look at themselves as soccer players rather than guys who play soccer. They have brought a process-oriented culture and have defined what it means to be successful,” Coach Pill stated.
The offseason will feature a new defense named the “Tonal Defenders,” a singing group committed to ministering in local churches during the spring semester.
A soccer ministry team will also serve this summer, consisting of David Anderson, Josh Knoedler, Brian Lundquist and Taylor Pill.
For Coach Pill, the soccer season extended beyond field play to the bond formed by hard-working individuals.
“I often brag to my US Soccer coaching friends that I have one of the best coaching jobs in the country. Here we have kids that participate because they enjoy it, and that are fun to be with.”