Lexington, Ky. – The 2017 season, one of the one most successful in Transylvania men's soccer history, included an 11 game win-streak, a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship, and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
The magical season came to an abrupt end in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Kenyon College Lords in the first round of the NCAA tournament with the Pioneers completing a 17-2 season.
SEASON GOALS: With the 2018 campaign on the horizon, Transylvania men's soccer head coach Matt Vogel's Pioneers are primed for another strong season, and are hungry for a return voyage to the NCAA tournament.
"Playing in the NCAA tournament last year helped us to gain valuable experience in that type of environment," remarked Vogel. "I think it is important for us to make every effort to get back there and make a run towards our long-term vision for the program."
However, the Pioneers are not simply interested in making it to the tournament this season. Rather, they have plans for a deep postseason run.
"It starts with the first training session, and carries itself through towards the end of the season," said Vogel. "Winning NCAA tournament games will bring us closer to where we want to be as a program."
RETURNING PLAYERS: The Pioneers welcome back eight of 11 starters and several key reserves from last year's squad. Among the returning players is senior defender Tyler Joy-Brandon, who was named HCAC Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-Region, and First Team All-American for his outstanding play as a junior. Joy-Brandon became the third All-American in the storied history of the Transylvania men's soccer program.
"It is nice to have a player like Tyler coming back," said Vogel. "Not only does he understand the positional aspects of the game, but he has an incredible skill set with the ball on top of that.
With such an abundance of talent returning on both sides of the pitch it will be paramount that the Pioneers learn to operate as a cohesive unit in order to maximize their potential this season.
"When we have the ball we will attack with 11 players, and when we don't, we will defend with 11 players," said Vogel. "So it will be important for everyone to know their roles and responsibilities on this team."
SCHEDULE: If the Pioneers hope to recreate last season's fiery start of 11 straight victories they will have to overcome a slew of perennial soccer powers. Transylvania's early nonconference schedule includes formidable opponents such as Ohio Northern and Otterbein, as well as in-state rivals Centre and Thomas More.
"I think as a competitor you want to be playing against some of the strongest teams in the nation," said Vogel. "Our nonconference schedule will give us a really good test and a platform for us to build on as we progress through the season.
The season gets underway on Saturday, September 1 as Transylvania hosts the Ohio Northern Polar Bears. Kickoff between the Pioneers and the Polar Bears is set for 7:00 p.m. at Pat Deacon Stadium.
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