By: Danielle Maiale, Loyola University Maryland ‘16
“He has a vision for success.”
These are the words echoed by the peers of senior Joseph Cahalan, captain of the Loyola University Maryland men’s soccer team, as he gears up for his last season in green and grey. Persistence, dedication and being deeply rooted in the team’s success is what has driven him to set an everlasting example.
Cahalan is a natural-born leader on Loyola’s team, instructing, demonstrating and motivating players to the best of his abilities. He leads by example, trusting in his years of experience and hard work to guide the team to success both on and off the field. Selfless and humble, Cahalan’s utmost positive attitude and diehard commitment for the team’s overall success transpires amongst all else.
“Joey has never missed a practice or game in his entire career at Loyola,” classmate Andrew Waddington said. “I'm sure no one can say that. People follow his lead because his biggest concern is always about how the team can get better. His consistency is second to none.”
Cahalan doesn’t just strive for excellence on the field, but in the classroom, as well. A member of Loyola’s Sellinger Scholars program and the Green and Grey Society, his maturity and ability to make decisions with the bigger picture in mind is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed to first-year head coach Steve Nichols.
“In high school, I had recruited him to come play for me at McDonogh, however he chose Gilman,” Nichols stated. “That was a decision he made based on his academics and not soccer alone. It really shows what’s important to Joey. He makes decisions based on his future, a trait that will make him very successful in the future.”
Finding his way to Loyola from the Gilman School, located just two miles down the road from the Evergreen Campus, Cahalan admitted that he looked at leaving the area for college, but found that family and the close-knit atmosphere of Baltimore was too important to him to leave behind.
“In high school, every kid wants to look and see what’s out there and get away from home,” Cahalan said. “I had looked at the places where I was being recruited, but the more I looked, the more the path started to lead me closer to home."
That decision is one that four years later, Cahalan does not regret making.
“There are a lot of perks to staying close to home and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made,” Cahalan said. “In addition to my family, there have been people I’ve played rec ball with who still come and watch my games at Ridley Athletic Complex. It just goes to show how close-knit Baltimore is and how supportive the area around here is.”
Cahalan has taken that family mentality he grew to appreciate and, in being named a team captain for the second-consecutive season, he has worked to instill that close-knit bond into this year’s squad, molding the team into more than just players, but family.
“It was a great honor for me to be named captain, as there is nothing better than having your peers select you as someone they trust to lead you,” Cahalan said. “I’ve always been someone, even in high school, who has always treated everyone the same way. Whether you play all 90 minutes or if you’re someone who doesn't step foot on the field, you’re an equal part of the team.”
This mentality became increasingly evident in the offseason, as the team was without a head coach for a period of time. This was when Cahalan knew he had to step in and form solidarity, and he did so by leaning on assistant coach Matt Dwyer..
“People were looking to myself and Coach Dwyer for some direction and organization,” Cahalan stated. “He cared so much about us to give months of organization and was an authority figure. He was deeply dedicated to the team and we will always be indebted to him.”
“The relationships that Joey had built with both the old and the new coaching staffs, and the remaining players, was very important during the transition period,” Waddington added in support of Cahalan’s leadership in the time of uncertainty. “Many players did not know, or knew little about, Coach Nichols when he was hired, but Joey helped bridge that connection.”
Playing club ball for Nichols as a youth, Cahalan was familiar with what Nichols expected out of a team and was able to help the new coaching staff seamlessly bridge the gap between the players, and vice versa.
“Above all else, Steve is a proven winner,” Cahalan said. “He has won wherever he has been and I have been very lucky to have been coached by him. He knows the game and the tactics, and he is a great motivator to us as players. In the past, we haven’t had the best team chemistry, but he brought that same standard and atmosphere to Loyola from when I played for him before. Now, as we get into the heart of our season, we’ve really learned how to play for each other. I look forward to watching the program in the years to come. The sky is the limit with Steve.”
“Joey has been an unbelievable bridge for us,” Nichols said. “I don't think we would be anywhere close to where we are as a program right now without Joey’s leadership this year. When you say lead by example, his picture would be right there in the dictionary. I can do or say things to Joey and not worry about him closing down or taking it personal because of the kind of person he is.”
Cahalan will be the first to admit that he may not be the best player on the team, but he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make the team better.
“To be honest, I don't think I'm that great of a soccer player,” Cahalan admitted. “I don't have the best touch and I'm not the best technically, but I think I'm pretty athletic. I can jump, I can run and I'm pretty durable playing a whole 90-minute game.”
Cahalan’s versatility, both on and off the field, has placed him in a new role this year. Primarily a defender throughout his career, he’s made the move to the left wing this season, a position that gives him more freedom to impact the game both offensively and defensively.
“He may not be a Ray Lewis tough guy, but for what God has given him in his chemistry, he is tougher than anyone two times his size,” Nichols said. “He wins all personal battles and he is mentally tough, which makes him stand out. There’s nobody who deserves success more than Joey.”