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Xooligans back for round two

Soccer fans excited for upcoming season

By sabrina Brown
On August 24, 2011

When it comes to passionate fans at Xavier University, most people's minds instantly go to the basketball student section with their crazy hats, painted chests and cheers that have become a staple of Xavier Nation.

Last year, another group made itself known in the world of Xavier sports fans: the Xooligans.

The Xooligans began last year as a small group of students that prided themselves on being avid Xavier men's soccer fans.

By the end of last season, the group had grown to a record-breaking crowd of over 1,000.

The group was set in motion by assistant soccer coach Kris Bertsch. Bertsch previously coached at the University of Connecticut where he began a men's soccer following that grew from six fans to a crowd of 3,000-4,000.

"We want to embrace the passion of Xavier. This place is different than other schools I've been at," Bertsch said. "People

genuinely care passionately about X."

Bertsch believes that soccer provides an atmosphere that is found solely at a soccer game.

Fans become influential voices that can be heard as opposed to one voice lost in a crowd of 10,000.

"They felt like their voice was heard and that their voice was impacting the match," Bertsch said. "They felt more connected to the game."

Last season, the Xavier men's soccer team had the biggest turnaround in the NCAA and a record-breaking season at Xavier.

The Musketeers tied defending national champion Akron 2-2 and were the second of 39 opponents to score against them on their home field.

This season, the team is ranked No. 3 in the A-10 preseason.

To start their 2011 preseason, they tied No. 11 Notre Dame 1-1. They then defeated seven time national champion Indiana for the second year in a row.

"If they come once, they're going to come again. I believe in our product. If the product is good, they'll come back," Bertsch said.

The Xooligans have filled a unique niche on Xavier's campus. From wearing flannel to banging drums and using airhorns, the Xooligans are among the most passionate Xavier fans.

"The passion of the Xooligans kept us going when we were basically piecing together a team [last season]," Bertsch said. "We just kept saying ‘you can't let the Xooligans down.'"

Bertsch and the Xooligans believe that Xavier Nation will be far from disappointed with Xavier's newest fan base.

The Xooligan's are on the lookout for Xavier's most passionate soccer fans to keep them motivated as they strive to have a successful 2011 season.

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