At the end of their 2017 season, three members of the Cal State Fullerton men’s soccer team will hang up their blue and orange jerseys for good.
Seniors Corentin Ohlmann, Diego Sanchez and Nicolo D’Amato are the only members on the squad who will not be returning for the 2018 season.
Though Sanchez and D’Amato hope to continue their competitive play on the field after graduation, Ohlmann has some mixed feelings heading into the last few games as he has other plans off the pitch.
“I feel excited to walk with my friends on the field,” Ohlmann said. “I don’t know if I’m going to keep playing soccer after college, so it may be my last soccer game at a competitive level.”
For Sanchez, the end of the season came a little faster than he expected as the team heads into its first tournament match Saturday Nov. 4.
“I feel very motivated. I have to give it my all these last two games, because we don’t know if we’re going to have that third game,” Sanchez said. “At the beginning of the season, I was like ‘Dang, last season’ and now I’m like ‘Dang, last two games.’”
Sanchez and D’Amato have been a part of the Titan squad since their freshman year in 2014, and though Ohlmann only joined two years ago, D’Amato believes their bond has allowed the pair to model what a team looks like for the younger members on the roster.
“We try to be role models for the younger guys that are in here and have them realize that it goes really quick, and you have to enjoy every moment and every game,” D’Amato said. “We’ve gotten really close over the years, and now we’re just the old guys left on the team.”
In 2016 the Titans saw a total of 14 seniors depart the team, leaving them an almost entirely new squad for the 2017 season.
The freshmen on the team have shown they deserve playing time as much as their veteran teammates, as they were forced numerous times throughout the season to make changes to their positions.
Titans Head Coach George Kuntz said the seniors’ legacy has a lot to do with the success of the team this year.
“When you graduate seniors, it’s kind of a legacy,” Kuntz said. “They leave something to the team and what they’ve left is the work ethic.”
The senior Titans have seen the last few years fly by and said they’ll always cherish their time at CSUF.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Division I or Division II, being a part of a team, there’s nothing like it,” D’Amato said. “This spring is going to be a little different for us … It could be some of our last games, but some of us will choose to keep going.”
Though they won’t be replacing as many seniors as in previous years, team captain D’Amato said the returning Titans are well prepared to keep the team at the top of the leaderboards.
“We have a great group of guys. I don’t think there’s going to be a problem. We have players that are more than capable of taking our roles and improving the team,” D’Amato said. “The coaches have trusted us and we trust everyone just the same.”
Although fans at Titan Stadium won’t see the three Titans stalwarts on the field next season, Kuntz said the three seniors have left a mark on and off the pitch that will carry the team through even more successes.
“They’ve taught others to play their roles, and that’s part of what you do as a mentor, and they’ve done fantastic,” Kuntz said. “ We will miss them, their work ethic and their leadership, but we hope that the young players have learned from the older ones.”