New coach, new team, new year. Stags soccer looks to make a comeback following their suspension

Following their suspension in 2022, with a new coach in tow, Stags soccer is hoping to rebuild their culture and push for a SCIAC title in 2023. (Courtesy: CMS Athletics)

With a new head coach on their staff, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) men’s soccer team is shooting for a fresh start. Currently in their non-traditional season, having won their lone game in the spring against Azusa Pacific University 4-0 on April 15, the Stags are rebuilding their team culture and looking to the fall.

Last fall, the latter half of the mens’ soccer team’s season was canceled due to a hazing incident that occurred on Oct. 1, 2022. The Stags, who went all the way to the SCIAC finals the previous year, did not compete in their final five games, including the Sixth Street Rivalry match-up against Pomona-Pitzer.

Following the incident, Dianna Graves, Claremont McKenna College’s associate vice president and dean of students, stated, “the team is grappling with that loss, has taken accountability and will be working with CMS Athletics to restore and amplify the values of the program.”

Following the departure of head coach Trevor Swartz this off-season, CMS athletics announced on March 23 that Edward Cartee, a former assistant coach at Trinity University, is taking on the role in 2023.

The addition of Cartee presents an opportunity for the soccer team to further work to restore their team culture and move past the failures of the fall season. According to team member Walsh Kern CM ’25, Cartee is working to ensure that the team improves on the soccer field but also improves their relationship and bonds with each other off of it.

“[Cartee] is very detail-oriented and you can tell that he really knows what he’s doing,” Kern said. “He’s been helping us get back on track both in terms of our actual soccer but also organizationally as a culture. We’d been playing without a coach for months, so it’s been really refreshing to actually get someone in who’s gearing us towards next fall and actually [becoming] better soccer players.”

Jake Allmon CM ’24 said that out of the four head coaches he has had during his time at CMS, Cartee has made the quickest impact on himself and on the team.

“[Cartee] already has a ton of respect from the team mainly because he runs practices really efficiently,” Allmon said. “He’s very well-organized and also a really good communicator. He already let us know about our fall schedule — I think we have three 6:15 a.m. practices a week during the season, which is pretty crazy, but I think it’s good because it’s clear he’s trying to get us to be disciplined and focused on the greater goal, which is winning SCIACs and making it to NCAAs.”

As part of fostering a closer and healthier team environment, Cartee has continued the Stags’ involvement with the Team IMPACT program. Team IMPACT matches children with serious illnesses and disabilities with college sports teams, instilling motivation and support within these children.

Through the program, the team has formed a relationship with a young boy named Matthew. According to John Laidlaw CM ’26, on April 20, the team went to Matthew’s soccer game in Ontario where they were able to cheer him and his teammates on.

“It was a really fun experience for us, and it was probably really encouraging [for Matthew] to see so many people watching him so intently,” Laidlaw said. “Our time off the field has given us an opportunity to do more events like that and really become involved in [Matthew’s] life, which has really brought us closer as a whole team. I think it’s also made us step back and realize what’s really important in life and how much the little things that we do outside the field … can have such a positive impact on others.” 

Although his first season was not the one he was expecting, Laidlaw is still grateful for the relationships he has made on the team. He is hopeful that under Cartee’s guidance, the team can bounce back and perform well next fall.

“I think that the best thing that came out of the fall and after what happened was being able to connect with my teammates,” said Laidlaw. “They’ve really helped me in multiple ways, especially off the field, and I think that our new coach has also helped me a lot as well. Cartee’s main goal is not only to have a successful soccer program, but also to have molded 30 people each year to be respected individuals who go out in the world and make any environment that they’re put in better.”

As the team is set on returning to powerhouse status in the SCIAC, Kern said that they are treating this non-traditional training season as a way to prepare mentally and physically for the fall. 

“Our actions hurt not only everyone in the soccer program, but also everyone in the whole CMS athletic program, so our focus [from now on] is to right that wrong as much as we can,” Kern said. “We’ve been super positive and fully committed to rebuilding the team culture from the bottom up, all the way down to how we warm up, how we practice and how we interact as a team on the field. We’re kind of treating this season as part of the preseason for next year.”

As a senior, Allmon is looking forward to being a leader on the team. Reflecting on his team’s actions last season, he said that a large part of moving forward is owning up to their actions. 

“I think it’s obvious that we made a mistake,” Allmon said. “We were honestly unaware of what we were really doing and we kind of justified it under the guise of having fun and carrying on a tradition that all of us had participated in. But in reality, [what we were doing] really wasn’t okay and we know that [hazing] is a serious issue. As much as [the cancellation of the season] was a really difficult thing to have happened to [us], we just have to deal with the ramifications of it and [we] will do better next year.”

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