With a history that includes two regular season HCAC Championships, two HCAC Tournament Championships, nine appearances in the HCAC Tournament final, 76 All-Conference players and three HCAC Most Valuable Players, imagining AU without a soccer program is difficult. However, it wasn’t long ago that the third-youngest program in the conference had not yet begun. Under the tutelage of Head Coach Scott Fridley, AU soccer has grown to heights that were previously unimaginable.
“When I came to AU, I was solely focused on building a soccer program,” said Fridley. “It was a dream of mine. It didn’t make sense that my church school didn’t have soccer.”
Many members of Fridley’s family had attended AU before him. Coming out of high school as an under-sized goalkeeper, Fridley decided to attend AU and start a soccer program. He connected with some students he had met on a visit in the Spring of 1986 and was able to start a club soccer team his freshman year.
The team continued to operate at a club level through his junior season, before becoming an official varsity sport in 1989.
Fridley’s four years in goal for the Ravens were incredibly strong, and he still holds a spot on many of the Ravens career records for keepers. His 11.3 saves per game are best in program history, nearly double that of second place.
After wrapping up his playing career, Fridley joined the coaching staff as an assistant in 1990, before being hired as Head Coach on Dec. 3, 1993.
Once Fridley had taken over as coach, he knew he would have to start gathering equipment in order to progress the program. Westfield High School donated bleachers to AU. Fridley’s grandfather built a press box on the field.
Most importantly, the Ravens needed goals. During his playing career, the team had two goals and had to transport them wherever they went. Now, the Ravens have the most goals of any team in the HCAC.
Fridley’s devotion to the program has resulted in great success. In a 3-0 victory over MacMurray on Sept. 23, Fridley earned his 200th career victory as head coach of the Ravens.
“I can’t really even swallow it,” said Fridley. “Two hundred victories are something I never thought would be feasible. It’s a testament to my players and their willingness to fight through adversity and find a way to win.”
Looking back at the 31-year history of AU soccer, it is impressive how much growth has taken place. With 200 wins and counting, Fridley is ready to take the program one step farther.
“I’ve always wanted a stadium that’s the best in the conference,” Fridley said. “For recruiting purposes, for retention and so my kids feel good about what is going on.”
The soccer team currently plays on a field with bleachers and a recently installed scoreboard, but not too much else in the flash department. Fridley is excited to build a stadium in its place.
The stadium will be in the same location, but will include various upgrades. Building of the stadium will be done in three phases.
The first phase will include “the basics that you need for any stadium”: a sprinkler system, concession stand, extensions of the team areas on the sidelines, fencing, electrical work for the press box, signage, restrooms, a cement pad and stands. The stands will hold 726 people, allowing for far greater crowds to be accommodated.
Fridley is also traveling November through April, including a West Coast trip, to connect with alumni and share the vision for the future of AU soccer.
Once phase one has been funded and completed, phase two will commence. This phase will be lighting the field so the Ravens can host night contests. Any home night games are currently held at Macholtz Stadium.
“We want to be an event on campus, said Fridley. “Games at three in the afternoon can be tough for faculty, staff, alumni and students, so we’d love to host games at seven to draw bigger crowds.”
The third and final phase will be bricking all of the standing buildings.
Building a soccer stadium has been a long time coming. Fridley describes himself as pushy and driven.
“I know me, and I’m a dreamer,” he said. “I need people to come along with the dream to get things done.
“Once I had my mind to it that soccer was going to be here and we were going to move forward with the program, I felt like building the stadium was going to happen.”
Fridley reflected on how much has taken place both on and off of the field in his 31 seasons with AU soccer.
“There has been a lot of sacrifice and a lot of time spent away to make this all happen, but I don’t think I’d change anything. Since 1986, it’s been a lot of fun.”
The building process will continue as funds are received. Money can be donated online at: https://www.anderson.edu/support/soccer-stadium.