BUENA VISTA, Va.—Emerson penned the quote, "Life is a journey, not a destination."
The idea summarizes the 2013 Southern Virginia University men's soccer season in that the end results of each game did not always go as planned, but the experiences gained throughout the year will benefit the team moving forward.
Losses were accrued during the year and the close games often went in favor of the opponent in the win-loss column, but the Knights stuck together and played each game knowing the future will be brighter if they simply continued to put forth their best effort each time they set foot on the pitch.
Heading into the Senior Day game on Oct. 23 versus Marymount with a 1-14-1 record on the year, the Knights could have easily folded and given up. Instead, the team kept at it and pulled out a 1-0 victory over the Saints to earn its first win of the season.
"The senior day game was great because we were putting things together and finally had a belief that we could win," said Southern Virginia Director of Soccer Matt Grawrock. "It was exciting to see that put into action - we really felt that we could win that game.
"We saw glimpses of hope during the year, but in that game it all culminated and worked out for us. It meant a lot for the seniors to go out like that after a disappointing season. It was a final validation that we had played so hard in so many games but the end results were not going our way. It was a positive moment that was exciting and gratifying for the team."
While the Capital Athletic Conference proved to be one of the top NCAA Division III soccer leagues in the country, the Knights found success on several occasions, including a 1-1 tie with Penn State Harrisburg on Sept. 28 to open conference play.
Goalkeeper Scott Zaring enjoyed a phenomenal season, achieving 166 saves for the year, a .748 save percentage and one shutout. As a captain of the team and defensive anchor, he led Southern Virginia in the win over Marymount by earning six saves. For his efforts he was awarded All-CAC Second Team honors at the end of the season. His 166 saves on the year ranks second-most in CAC men's soccer history (established 1991).
"We were really fortunate to have him with us this year," Grawrock said. "He came to work every practice and gave our team a chance in every game. We knew he was going to make a lot of good saves for us. He's a tremendous leader for the team and everyone knew he was going to give it his best. He can win games singlehandedly if we do our part."
The end of the season also saw a completion to the outstanding careers of seniors Luis Diaz, Eric Palmer, Nathan Seeberger and Kyle Tyree, who put in countless hours of practice and game time to the program over the past few years.
"The seniors gave perspective to the rest of the team," Grawrock said. "They explained to the younger guys that there are expectations in this program because of success they had in the past. They helped the team prepare for setbacks and quickly rebound to get better. They would acknowledge to the team that it's not fun to lose but that we're building a program and things will improve with time."
The program saw an emergence of future stars as multiple freshmen contributed to the group and put forth their best efforts to make the team better.
Sam Bunnell led the team with two goals on the year and also poured in one assist for a team-high five points on the year. The Newcastle, Wash., native had 17 shot attempts for the year, including eight on goal, second most on the team. Marrott Weekes scored one goal this season and earned five shot attempts with three on goal.
"Sam was a great leader for us and we'll miss him as he heads out on his mission," Grawrock said. "We look forward to his coming back in a few years. Marrott is another guy who gave a tremendous amount of effort and consistently gave everything he had.
The Knights were also successful in their classwork as Maxwell Doxey, Nathan Seeberger and Eric Palmer were named to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association All-Academic Team.