After a disappointing 2-1 loss to Amherst in the semifinals last season, men’s soccer is off to a strong start after beating UNE 2-0 on Thursday. The team hopes to carry the momentum to the first NESCAC match, where it will again face Amherst.
Last year, the team struggled with constant injuries and with scoring, according to captain Wilson MacMillan ’18.
“Last year we were really plagued by injuries, and we had a tough time finishing off games. We ended up having a lot of ties and not scoring a lot of goals, and it kind of didn’t really come together,” he said.
The team is looking to improve this year by placing more focus on a wide variety of skills rather than on one aspect of the game.
“We have been a team that’s traditionally pretty big and physical and athletic, and that has served us very well in a lot of recent years. But in order for our team to be really comprehensive and do a lot of different things well, we need to try to balance our skill sets,” said Head Coach Scott Wiercinski.
Captain Sam Ward ’18 echoed this sentiment, agreeing that the team is more diverse in terms of skill than previous years.
This season, the team added 10 first years, more than usual. Wiercinski believes the increase helped bring needed skills to the team.
“I do think that this freshman class, because it’s large, is a pretty good balance,” Wiercinski said. “We definitely have some technical players that [will] maybe raise our technical average, but we also have some big physical guys that are able to do different things. We think that we haven’t swung the pendulum too far. We’re a balanced team and capable of a lot.”
The team also performed well during its first scrimmage against Tufts on Saturday, September 2nd, which ended in a 1-1 tie.
“I think the scrimmage went really well. They’re the defending national champions, so we knew what we were going into. It was good to see some new faces come in and play big minutes for us,” said captain Stevie Van Siclen ’18.
The main objective of the team this year is to win the NESCAC championships. A win this year would be the team’s third in four years.
“Our first and foremost goal is to win NESCAC. The guys in my grade and the year below have each won once or won twice, and so we’ve tasted what it’s like, and we’re focusing ahead to achieve that goal,” said Van Siclen.
The team also aims to host the regional qualifying round in the NCAA DIII tournament and to ultimately win the NCAA DIII championship, which went to Tufts last year.
“Last year we beat Tufts twice in a week, we had a better record than them and went further in the NESCACs and got selected to the NCAAs. To me that’s very motivating because we came so close, and we beat a team that won the national championship, twice in a week,” said Ward.
However, the team needs to focus on NESCACs in order to make the NCAA DIII tournament.
“To put us in a position to compete in the tournament we’d either need to win NESCACs or have to have a great year and fall just short of winning the tournament,” said Van Siclen.
With the combination of a shifting skill set and enthusiastic new players, the team is optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We’re really excited, can’t wait to get started. The guys have been working really hard and really focus to improve,” said Wiercinski. “We’re excited to actually get on the field and play games that actually count.”
The team travels to play Amherst on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The team’s first home game is Saturday, September 16 against Wesleyan.