Minnesota club soccer begins season

Despite not being a varsity sport, the team is coached by a former pro player.

University of Minnesota Mens Club Soccer Team President Cameron Nase handles the ball at the University Student Recreational Sports Fields on Thursday, September 10.

Image by Alex Tuthill-Preus

University of Minnesota Men’s Club Soccer Team President Cameron Nase handles the ball at the University Student Recreational Sports Fields on Thursday, September 10.

by Jack White

On a cold Tuesday evening at about 9 p.m., the University of Minnesota men’s club soccer team started practice under the lights on the fields behind the Bierman Field Athletic Building.
With no varsity men’s soccer program at Minnesota, the club team is the best option for those who want to keep playing at the University. During their season, the team plays against Division III schools, charter schools and other club teams. 
The team had its first official practice last Tuesday, and members are determined to make it the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association National Soccer Championships this year after losing an opportunity to go last year on penalty kicks.
“[Our] strength is definitely the depth of the team,” said club president and defender Cameron Nase. “This year [not only do] we have a lot of good players, but we have two lines of good players. In the past we only had one line. And we can just run guys out there and wear teams out.”
Many of the team’s players come from in-state, and Nase said he met several of his current teammates when he was playing for the Centennial Soccer Club in Minnesota. 
Still, the team has members from a variety of backgrounds. The team occasionally has players from other countries, with some former players coming from Sweden and Denmark. 
Brazilian midfielder Bruno Nehemy said a friend told him about the University when he was studying in Missouri during high school and convinced him to attend. When he arrived on campus, he heard about the club soccer team.
“I am passionate about soccer, and once I heard about it, I wanted to try out,” Nehemy said.
Although the team performs well on the field, school is still the first priority. Since the men’s team isn’t a varsity sport, no players receive athletic scholarships. 
Instead, players focus on their professional goals. Defender Charlie Hannon is in the School of Dentistry and plans to be a practicing dentist in six months.
“Here the players aren’t recruited for a full varsity program, so they’re really dedicated to the sport,” staff coach Jonathan James said. “[They] love the sport, and they’re students first.”
Despite not being a varsity sport, the team has a strong coaching staff. 
Head coach Alan Merrick has a background in professional soccer, having played for West 
Bromwich Albion in the English First Division, which has since become the Premier League. Merrick also played for the Minnesota Kicks in the North American Soccer League, which now is home to the Minnesota United. 
James has coaching experience at both the college- and high school-level. A third coach, Ryan Cammarota, was a former player for the club team.
The team is scheduled to play in the 2015 Region V Club Soccer Tournament in Colorado at the end of October. The team then hopes to advance to the national tournament this November in Arizona, avenging their loss in regionals last year.
“We have a really good team, a lot better team than last year,” Nase said. “But [nationals] is our goal.”