By Zachary Lerman
Lewis & Clark is currently the only Northwest Conference team that does not have a varsity men’s soccer team. However, there was a men’s soccer team in the 1980s that won two Northwest Conference titles in 1979 and 1980. The varsity team’s last season was in 1990, almost 20 years ago.
It has been frustrating not having a varsity team on campus for some students.
“I wish there was a varsity men’s soccer team before I graduated,” Yonas Habte ’19, a player on the men’s club soccer team, said. “Right now no one really cares about club soccer except for a few friends. It’s really frustrating, we do most of our things on our own and we get little support for performing well.”
Despite this, the club team has done well in recent seasons. They won a title last season and their squad continues to compete against other colleges in Oregon. When asked about whether some of the current club players can play in a varsity team.
“Definitely some us can play (Division III). It all comes down to being serious or not,” Habte said.
Habte believes that bringing back a varsity soccer team would bring a lot of good things to the school.
“With recruited players and a larger budget, the team would do better and the school would benefit from it,” Habte said.
However, there are reasons for why there currently is no men’s varsity soccer team on campus.
“There were two primary reasons why it went away,” Ryan Goff, Director of Athletic Communications, said. “Facilities was a main one. The stadium wasn’t turf, so it was grass and by the end of the season with both soccer, football and every other club or recreational team it would just get tore up. So it was tough to maintain the field and toward the end of that season.”
The overall “lack of interest” expressed by the students during the 1990s is another reason there is not a varsity men’s soccer team. Varsity women’s soccer wasn’t added until 2004.
“In 2004 they finally decided to bring back women’s soccer because of Title IX,” Goff said. “They had to add a women’s team first.”
The school looked into re-adding men’s soccer but their plans never came to fruition. As for the current situation.
“Facilities is still an issue,” Goff said. “We are fortunate enough to get lights because we are in partnership with Riverdale High School. So that’s the reason the field has lights but even with added amount of time where teams can practice, you’re looking at inter-collegiate teams, club teams, Riverdale High School, physical education, intramurals, all these teams that are trying to access one field.”
Goff doesn’t see LC adding a men’s varsity soccer team anytime soon, given the current restrictions on facilities and NCAA Title IX regulations, which would require LC to add a women’s lacrosse team along with a men’s soccer team.
Even with student interest in men’s soccer, adding a men’s soccer team is still a distant dream.