By: Maia Koch, Loyola Freshman
The Loyola men’s soccer team kicked off their season on February 3, 2021, in a game against Marquette. Unfortunately, they lost the game during overtime. However, they did win their game against Northern Illinois. Due to COVID-19, their games have become more spaced out so they no longer have the opportunity to play games back to back. Their fall season was canceled and with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, many precautions and guidelines are being enforced to ensure the team’s safety.
I was lucky enough to interview freshman, Julian Cisneros, from Elk Grove Village, IL. He’s number 26 and mostly plays outside or holding mid, but occasionally plays as an outside defender. An outside mid is designated a side of the field to attack and defend, while holding mid stays behind the other midfielders to help move the ball from side to side and keep the other team from scoring. Cisneros is confident in his skill and believes he plays all three positions pretty well. His favorite position is midfielder because that’s where he has the biggest opportunity to score goals.
Cisneros’ soccer career began when he was only 3-years-old. He started off playing park district, and when his parents saw how much he loved the sport, he moved to larger clubs in his area. His mother is one of his biggest motivators. Growing up, he witnessed her go through and overcome so much adversity, and seeing her constantly bounce back and keep moving forward pushes him to overcome his challenges and keep working towards his goals.
*Interview has been edited for length and clarity
Maia Koch: Can you tell me what your training schedule looks like?
Julian Cisneros: We get one day a week off per NCAA rules (National Collegiate Athletic Association). But it depends on the day, so for example because we have a game tomorrow, today’s practice was light and short, but other days our practices are really intense and difficult. We are teammates but during practice, things can get really heated we’re hitting each other, we’re sliding, we’re tackling, sometimes there’s swearing. But it’s still a good environment because it makes us better players.
Koch: How is this season different than previous seasons with COVID?
Cisneros: Obviously with Corona, we’ve had to take certain precautions, our fall season was canceled. Now we can’t use certain facilities or resources like we used to be able to. Most of our games this year won’t have fans, hopefully, later on in the season COVID will get better and we’ll be able to have fans. The biggest impact is missing the fans without them there the atmosphere just isn’t the same. It’s cool seeing your friends and family in the stands cheering you on. When a goal is scored hearing your fans cheer with you is always such a good feeling. Outside of soccer we have to be careful, we’re in Chicago and we want to go downtown and enjoy the city but we have to be cautious using public transportation or going to the grocery store, always mask up everywhere we go. A lot of time we want to go out to eat at restaurants but it’s safer for us to just order it for delivery. We have a lot of guidelines that we need to follow because we’re around 30 teammates every day and we don’t want to put our teammates or coaches and their families at risk.
Koch: What type of guidelines do you have to follow?
Cisneros: In general we have to get tested about every other day. So with last week’s game being in the middle of the week I actually got tested 5 days in a row and one of those days I got tested twice. We basically have to get tested within 48 hours of the game and when we take the team bus we all have to wear masks and we can only take our masks off when we start warming up and during the game. So when we are in the locker room and everywhere else we have our masks on because of safety and protocols. Each time we want to use a facility we have to scan in and out with our phones to say we were there.
Koch: What is it like playing during the spring season?
Cisneros: We don’t get to train on our home field; we have to go to a dome up in Evanston. The facility is awesome but there is something different about being able to train on your home field and see the Loyola logo every day. We don’t get that at the dome, but it’s a lot better than playing in 15 or 20 degree weather. Some facilities have better heating than others, the dome at Marquette was about 50 degrees, which is warm enough. Playing in the domes is different because when I’m shooting, the wall behind the goal messes with my depth perception so you have to get used to that.
The soccer team puts in a lot of time and effort to train and become the best at their sport. They spend hours practicing, studying, and recovering. Let’s be sure to support our soccer team this season by streaming their games and cheering them on from home.
For more information on the men’s soccer game schedule please visit: https://loyolaramblers.com/sports/mens-soccer/schedule
Well done Maya! Soccer is a favourite with your grandpa! Greetings and love from Austria, Oma