Many days ago, 104 to be exact, the 2012 season officially started with 58 student-athletes in camp fighting for a spot on the Duhawks varsity roster.
Following a shocking exit from the NCAA Tournament in 2011, there was a sense of hunger and desire to make the outcome in 2012 different. Led by Captain Dan Figura, the Duhawks pushed their way through the two-a-days and six-packs to make it to opening night.
Six different freshmen would earn playing time in the match against Bethel, only a sign of things to come and the contributions that would be made from every single player on the roster.
Today, we stand anxiously awaiting the 26th game of the season, with the hopes that the 24th team victory is on the horizon. In what might be one of the most anticipated matches in Loras Athletics history, they will take on the No. 1-ranked Messiah College Falcons, winners in six of the last ten National Championships and a team that constantly finds themselves in the top five in the rankings.
None of that matters now.
Friday, at 11 a.m., the teams will take the pitch for the National Semifinal match and the chance to play for the National Championship. At the sound of the whistle, nothing prior to game including predictions or performance will matter at that point.
The only thing that the Duhawks need to focus on is playing the game of soccer, something that each player has done for more than half of their lives.
These twenty-four young men have an opportunity to make history at Loras College. No team has ever won a NCAA National Championship, clearly showing the level of difficulty that an achievement like it entails.
With two more wins, this team can make history and prove to everyone that they are the best team in the NCAA.
Once the clock starts running, there is very little that Coach Dan Rothert will be able to control. He has done his job preparing these young men for this battle of epic proportions. The will to complete the task at hand is now on the team to ensure that the Duhawk flies higher than it ever has before.
Individual efforts tend to shine the brightest in games that have as much on the line as this one possesses; that will push a team over the edge and onto the next round.
Will Dylan Milkent come up with a leaping save to preserve the win? Will Johnny Rummelhart catapult himself into the air to head in a Kevin Cavers corner kick? Will Brad Joiner notch his first career NCAA Tournament goal and propel the Duhawks to victory? Only time will tell.
For the seniors, they have to ask themselves, ‘What will your verse be?’ What do they want to be remembered by in 25 years when they have beards full of grey and knees that are sore from the countless sprints during their soccer careers?
November 30, 2012, will be a day that these men will never forget and a cornerstone for the future of this Loras College Soccer program.
The day is yours for the taking Duhawks. Seize it.