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Now-sophomore midfielder Patrick Cayelli of Penn men's soccer during last season's NCAA matchup against Rutgers. Credit: Samantha Turner

Penn men's soccer is off to a cold start to its 2023 season, especially compared to the banner year in 2022. After winning the Ivy League last year, with a 6-1 conference record and a win against Rutgers in the NCAA tournament, the Quakers have stumbled out of the gates, drawing with Yale and losing to Dartmouth before picking up their first Ivy win against Cornell. Thrust into a new role this season is sophomore midfielder Patrick Cayelli, a former elite high school recruit with some experience off the bench as a freshman. The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with Cayelli to ask him 15 questions early into his first season as a regular in the starting lineup.

1. Can you introduce yourself? 

I’m Patrick Cayelli, I’m a sophomore on Penn’s soccer team, and I’m from Anderson, S.C., originally.

2. Why did you decide to come to Penn? 

I think throughout my recruiting process, all the staff, coach [Brian] Gill, [assistant coach Steve] DeMatteo, I think the staff … the way they talked and laid out their plan for the program, it made sense to me and made me want to be a part of it. Hearing about a program that’s trending in the right direction really drew me to Penn. And obviously Penn’s academics speak for themselves in a lot of ways.

3. What have you been up to since the end of last season?

So, we had the winter off after last season, and then the spring was pretty tough. We had a lot of conditioning and fitness and weight room stuff; we tried to prepare our bodies for the next season. Obviously worked on the field, trying to get the new team and guys ready. Then, over the summer I played for a summer league team down in Tampa to try to stay fit and stay on the ball and keep my touch. 

4. How was your experience playing for Tampa United in the USL?

I lived down there with one of my teammates, and it was cool. I’d never been in Florida for an extended period of time, but it’s good to train with a lot of very good players. A lot of guys at top programs there — it was a good experience of training at a high level and then also getting a lot of playing time and game time over the summer against college guys and older guys as well.  

5. How have you been adapting to your new role as a starter?

I mean, it’s definitely been an adjustment. I have to step up as a player in my role, but also on the field how I play. Guys have to be able to trust me, [and] I have to be reliable. I definitely think it's been a good jump. For me and one of the other sophomores that made the same jump — defender Oliver [Pratt] — it’s just a lot of playing time and giving it your all to the program and the guys with you. 

6. What do you consider to be your biggest strength on the field?

My passing and my technical ability. As a midfielder, I can solve a lot of situations with passes out or technical ability in tight situations.

7. What’s your biggest strength off the field?

I’d like to consider myself a pretty funny guy; I hope the other guys on the team would agree.

8. How would you describe the team culture?

I think it’s good. Honestly I’ve never been a part of a team that’s like a family. Even in high school, I was close with my club team, but here I spend a majority of my day and my time with these guys. You get extremely close to them and you’re able to have hard and good conversations with them. Everything is very comfortable within the team. 

9. How do you feel you’ve grown since the beginning of your freshman year?

I think there’s a massive step in maturity from freshman year, on and off the field ...There’s a lot of maturing that comes with being on a college team, so I definitely think that step in maturity came last year. 

10. Do you have any superstitions or pregame rituals?

I kind of listen to a lot of the same music. For one of my superstitions, I like to put on my right shin guard, my right cleat, all the stuff on my right before my left. 

11. What are your hobbies outside of soccer?

I live near a lake, so I like to go boating, tubing, fishing, a lot of stuff based around the lake, I’d say.

12. What’s your favorite sport besides soccer? 

Besides soccer, I’ve recently become a tennis fan. I watched the U.S. Open, and I like it. Like the sport. 

13. What’s your major and academic interests?

My major is cognitive science. I’m very much into kind of the mental side of sports psychology, or a neuroscience approach to psychology and social psychology dynamics and stuff like that. I’m a little uncertain [about] what I want to do with it.

14. What’s your biggest goal for the rest of the season?

On a team level, to win the Ivy League outright, and host the tournament, and then go on from there further on into the playoffs. Individually, just to continue to give everything I can to the program and the team, in whatever capacity it looks like.

15. Where do you see yourself after Penn?

I’d love to play professionally. That would be my ideal after-Penn situation.