Each year before every soccer season, Ethan Mansfield develops a list of goals. The list sits in his basement, and the Mahomet-Seymour star checks them off one at a time throughout the year.
As a junior, Mansfield was able to mark off a couple of goals. Mansfield was named first-team All-Area by The News-Gazette after tallying 12 goals and 15 assists as he led the Bulldogs to a 16-4-3 record in 2017.
He was also first-team All-Apollo Conference, but the Bulldogs were nipped by Mattoon 2-1 in the regional championship game, leaving Mansfield with a sour taste in his mouth.
As Mansfield gears up for a big senior year, the list is filled with some lofty goals.
Mansfield wants to bring a regional championship to M-S for the first time since 2015, and he'd love to help M-S break the wins record of 16 set by last year's team.
Individually, Mansfield's goals would be record-breaking.
"My biggest goals for my senior season will be to become All-State, All-Area Player of the Year and have around 15 goals and 20 assists," Mansfield said. "It would complete my high school career to know that I completed everything and that I really gave it my all in my four years."
M-S has never had a boys' soccer player be named All-Area Player of the Year by The News-Gazette. Mansfield was just one of three non-seniors to be named first-team All-Area. A strong senior season would put Mansfield squarely in the conversation for Player of the Year.
As soon as the high school season ended, Mansfield began competing with his club team, Central Illinois United. Mansfield's 17U team was terrific as it qualified for the National Cup XVII Finals, a tournament hosted by U.S. Club Soccer in Aurora, Colo.
Mansfield's team played against some of the top competition in the country, but finished second in its group and missed making the semifinals by just one point.
"It was an amazing experience," Mansfield said.
"We were playing all the top teams in the nation. We played the No. 1 ranked team according to GotSoccer and we lost 1-0. It was a tight loss, and I think we should have won. We also played against the Hawaii state champs and the Washington state finalists."
Mansfield made a name for himself on the national circuit, but now he's back in Mahomet trying to win a regional championship with his buddies since fifth grade.
"I moved here in fifth grade, and we've been playing together ever since," Mansfield said. "It's a different experience. With my club team, we move around with a lot of people. Here, it's a blessing, playing with these guys and seeing them every day. Now, it's our senior season, and I think we're favorable to win."
M-S lost some big-time contributors from last year's team, including Brandon Bussman, Trevor Burgess and Brandon Butzin, but Mansfield, Austin Carr and Joah Moore should be able to give M-S a solid nucleus. Junior Kadyn Moore is also ready to take a big step forward along with sophomores Nate Lundstrom, Eli Warren and Logan Woodward, who are all poised to contribute.
"Winning a regional title is very winnable; beating the school record, I could definitely see that happening," Mansfield said. "I definitely think we have a good chance of winning the Apollo this year. We did return a lot of players. A lot of these guys are my best friends, and we have a lot of good chemistry together."
In May of 2017, M-S junior Jacob Hamilton died in a car accident. Hamilton was the star goalkeeper of the Bulldogs soccer team, and the program is still reeling from his tragic death. Mansfield still has JH2 on his cleats in remembrance of Hamilton.
"I usually do a quick prayer before every game and think about him," Mansfield said. "I play every game not only for myself, but for him and all the other guys."
A regional championship win would allow Mansfield to check off an important item on his list. More importantly, it would honor Hamilton's legacy.
"Jacob had never been on one of those teams, and I know that he always really wanted to win one," Mansfield said. "He was a very demanding guy, in a good way. In practice or the weight room, he was really demanding, and he was a really good guy. He really wanted to win. He wanted everyone to get better. I think it would mean a lot to win a regional championship."