Cedergren looks to take the next step with attention to detail



By Boyd C. M. Hayes | Assistant sports editor

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With a year of transition and experience under his belt, second-year men’s head soccer coach Johan Cedergren is seeing the fruits of his labor take form in an entirely new winning culture.

The native of Sölvesborg, Sweden, got his start in American soccer as a standout player for the University of Cincinatti, after which he transitioned to coaching. He was hired by UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart as the head men’s soccer coach in December 2011 after spending five years as an assistant coach at Dartmouth.

In his time with the Big Green, Cedregren was part of two Ivy League championships and five NCAA Tournament bids, receiving National Soccer Coaches Association of America NCAA Assistant Coach of the Year distinction in 2010.

Taking the helm at UK last season, Cedergren steered his team out of a 1-3 start into the first NCAA Tournament bid for the school since 2003 and a top-25 RPI for the first time in program history, before losing to Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 1-0.

Cedergren isn’t resting on his laurels, however. The focus now is to do it again.

“It’s not good enough to make the tournament every now and then, right? We’re expecting great things for all programs, and for us, it’s time to either put up or shut up,” he said.

That constant pursuit of betterment is what drives Cedergren on a very personal level.

“I went to bed after the Xavier game exhausted, feeling really happy. It was a good first year, we made the tournament,” Cedergren said. “And I think I woke up around 3:30 that night, and already started sweating about next year.”

Cedergren’s attitude about improvement is contagious, and his players recognize the difference.

“I think it’s been a huge shift, in terms of just the culture,” senior goalkeeper Jack Van Arsdale said. “It’s not so much of a job anymore – it’s a privilege now. There’s an excitement about mimicking the success we had last year and going forward.”

“It’s more of a professional atmosphere. Everything that we do is for a purpose, whether it’s eating as a team, practicing or just going through a simple walkthrough,” added senior forward Tyler Riggs. “Coach has set the new standard high. Where we were last year, we want to go further and further.”

Cedergren’s new winning culture isn’t just about what is done on the field of play. For him, attention to detail in all situations is what makes the difference.

“It’s little things like putting your stool up so the cleaning crew can clean the floor, tying your shoes, bring in your shin guards, coming early, tucking in your shirt or whatever you need to do –  shaving before you go to a press conference,” Cedergren said. “To me, there’s no difference between that and marking a guy in the 89th minute on a set piece.”

Success in Cedergren’s second season at UK, according to his own words, will be found in those small details.

“If we just get into the habit of doing the little things right, all of that really adds up to a lot of success.”