After 13 years of playing soccer, Chandler Siemonsma, sophomore men’s soccer goalkeeper, was ready to quit the sport during his senior year of high school.
After recovering from a hand injury, Siemonsma said he missed soccer and decided to look for options to play the sport. Siemonsma transferred from Seattle Pacific University, and in his first year at Chapman Siemonsma has made more than 50 saves and has led the team to eight wins, so far.
Siemonsma made five saves in the second half of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) semifinal game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Nov. 1.
With the game scoreless at the end of overtime, the team went into penalty kicks. After both teams scored on their first three penalty kicks, Siemonsma said he knew it was his time to step up.
“After the first three, I was just thinking ‘OK, I need to save one,’ because our team was converting our penalty kicks, doing their part,” Siemonsma said. “Finally, on the fourth one, the guy seemed super nervous, so I read him and was lucky enough to get a hand on it.”
After Siemonsma saved the fourth goal, freshman Aidan Wall scored Chapman’s fifth penalty kick, securing the win for the Panthers.
Andrew Moreland, junior midfielder and Siemonsma’s roommate, said he was proud of Siemonsma.
“I always joke around with (Siemonsma) like ‘I’m kind of embarrassed to call you my roommate.’ We banter back and forth at practice,” Moreland said. “He always comes up big in the big moments of the game … I was very proud to call him my roommate after the game.”
Siemonsma said Gerzon Blanco, the assistant coach, advised Siemonsma about the psychological side of soccer.
“My assistant coach told me before the game, ‘Stay mentally in it. If you can do that, then you’re really going to help us today,’” Siemonsma said.
Chapman moved onto the conference finals Nov. 3. With four saves from Siemonsma and an early goal from freshman forward Tobi Howe, the team took home the championship and advanced to the national tournament.
Despite the pressure of his first year, Siemonsma said he enjoys playing for Chapman and has fun with the team.
“Being a freshman on the team, there’s a lot of pressure to do my best for the team and to do my part,” Siemonsma said.
Siemonsma is well-rounded and his determination allows him to excel in academics and athletics, Moreland said.
“He’s a very determined player on or off the field, whether that’s studying for an O-chem test, or on the field watching and paying attention to what coach is saying,” Moreland said. “He’s an extremely hard worker, gets good grades and also does really well in the game.”
Siemonsma also has a softer side, Moreland said, and enjoys making jokes and messing around with the team.
“(We) know that he’s going to do everything he can to make sure that we don’t get scored on,” Moreland said. “The lightheartedness takes the tension out of the game and lets us just play.”
This will be the team’s first time playing in the national tournament. Siemonsma was awarded Most Valuable Player of the Postseason Tournament, and said he anticipates playing in nationals.
“We have good momentum going into the tournament,” Siemonsma said. “The biggest thing for me as a goalkeeper is I always want to try to give my team the best possible opportunity to win a game. For me, that’s keeping a shutout.”
The Panthers find out who they play in the NCAA Tournament Nov. 5 during the selection show.