Georgia State men’s soccer team looking to avenge last year’s heartbreaking end to 2020

Looking ahead to the upcoming GSU Soccer season and their short and long term goals. Photo by belmontvisionphotos on Flickr

As the world moves forward into 2021, so does the Georgia State men’s soccer program. Coming off of a heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks to Coastal Carolina at Center Parc Stadium during the Sun Belt Conference Championships, changes are coming up for the Panthers.

Falling just shy of reaching the NCAA Tournament with seniors Aris Briggs and Paul Tyson, the Panthers hope to continue their success. This changing of the guard fits well, though, as the program is heading over to the Mid-American Conference.

After suspending their fall sports season, the MAC will feature four full members in Akron, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and West Virginia and three affiliates joining this year, including Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Western Michigan.

As Georgia State looks to retool in the new conference, there is some continuity with past teams as goalkeeper Gunther Rankenburg is joined by returning seniors Andrew Miller-Bell and George Proctor. Along with steady-handed head coach Brett Surrency, the Panthers are not expecting anything less than last year’s success.

“We will have a lot of experienced players returning, and the majority of our team [is] back. I would like to think we have a greater understanding in terms of how we want to play [this year], and we were able to gain some valuable time competing without burning a year of eligibility.  But the most important element may be the adversities that we had to tackle as a group with regards to the pandemic and all the struggles that came with it.” Coach Surrency said.

With all the newness befitting this year’s Panthers team, one comfort both the veterans and new players can count on are the fans. Students, faculty and fans will be allowed back in full force at the new GSU Sports Arena. 

“… We would love to have a raucous home crowd. The Atlanta soccer community is a great one, and we want that to be a strong part of our program and a huge advantage for us when we play at home.” Coach Surrency said.

One of the faces of the 2021 Panthers will be Gunther Rankenburg. The junior is taking over for Paul Tyson as the goalkeeper and has lofty expectations for himself and his team.

“It would be huge for us to get back to the NCAA Tournament and [to do] that we need to win the conference. On a personal level, I would like to make all-conference teams and break our shutout record for a season. I believe in my ability and our teams’ ability to get all these achievements done,” Rankenburg said.

Even with all the new looks to the program, the Panthers men’s soccer team aspires for fortunes similar to the ones they saw last season.