Lions mens’ soccer looks forward to first season under Chrysafidis

Photo courtesy of Finlandia Athletics The Lions’ Albert Hammond controls the ball near midfield of a game last season at McAfee Field in Hancock.

HANCOCK — First-year Finlandia men’s soccer coach Scott Chrysafidis has high hopes for his team this year.

“My approach this season is: we’re definitely small in numbers, but have a lot of experience and a lot of veterans returning to the team,” he said, “so, everyone knows how to play this game coming in. (I want) to incorporate a style that consists of a position-based defense, as well as a high attack.”

Finlandia has been conditioning throughout the preseason for a full 90-minute game.

“Right now we’re just working on getting the guys fit. That way we can go out there and they can play 90 minutes and really let their experience take control of the game,” said Chrysafidis.

College freshman can have a lot to adapt to when attending their first year of school and throwing a coach’s plans at them at the same time can make things more difficult. For the Lions’ freshman, Chrysafidis is working on integrating them into what the team has already created, which could prove crucial to their success as part of the team.

“We have a small freshman class, but it’s been pretty easy for them to incorporate their style of play into what these upperclassmen do,” said Chrysafidis. “We have a decent goalie (Noah Raisanen), as well, who’s a freshman, so I’m definitely impressed with his skill early on right now.”

As for the upperclassman, they are being asked to lead by example on and off the field. That will not necessarily be an easy thing as the Lions lost their top four scorers off a team that went 6-9-1 last season. Senior midfielder Glodie Kangia is the top returning scorer, coming off a season in which he scored three goals and nine points.

“What I expect from them is to be leaders on the field as well as off,” he said. “It’s a good thing because right now they’re all showing the leadership side. They’re all taking control on the field.”

The team looks to shape their regular season game play as an opportunity to gain momentum before they host the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament in November.

“We’ll be hosting a conference (tournament) the first week of November, so our goal is to hope to be playing our best soccer by the beginning of November,” Chrysafidis said. “We’ll be using this whole season to get match-fit, play the style that we want to play and then just have a lot of motivation going into that tournament.”

“The goals for this team are to definitely finish above 500, have a winning season, and then make it to the finals for our conference and hope we get that win.”

Finlandia’s season-opening match will be on the road at Northland College next Friday at 2 p.m.