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Men’s soccer: Three and O, ready to grow

September 15, 2023

Courtesy of Brian Beard
IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO: Mateo Pacelli ’26 celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against Bates with an assist by Felipe Rueda Duran ’26. The Polar Bears will play against Connecticut College this Sunday.

Last Friday night found Bowdoin men’s soccer tied 0-0 with Bates ten minutes into the second half. In front of a crowd packed with equal parts Bowdoin and Bates fans, striker Felipe Rueda Duran ’26 threaded the ball between three Bates defenders and launched it forward, where it collided with the cleat of his fellow sophomore, Mateo Pacelli ’26, and then promptly made contact with the back of the net.

Plays like this have been the story of the team’s first three games, beating UNE (5–1), Bates (1–0) and Husson (6–0). Given the team’s success last season, this may seem unsurprising. However, a return of this level of play was far from promised at the beginning of the preseason, when the team had to fill the gaps left by a formidable graduating class and was faced with an inconvenient practice schedule due to the Farley renovations.

“We lost five or six really influential seniors,” center back and captain Jack Selig ’24 said.  “That was kind of scary, and it felt very different at the beginning. But, pretty quickly it was like, ‘Okay, we’re still good.’”

Among these recent alumni is all-American defender Dylan Reid ’22, now professional goalkeeper Michael Webber ’23 and star striker Charlie Ward ’22. Despite the changes in personnel, the team has kept the same formation and approach they had last year, which, so far, has paid off.

“We definitely lost some valuable guys. But I think the people who have filled those roles have done a tremendous job,” Pacelli said.

Head Coach Scott Wiercinski has been similarly impressed with the team’s ability to meet high expectations, naming defender Paul Cluskey ’26 in particular.

“Cluskey has stepped in and filled Dylan’s shoes really, really well, and that’s really difficult to do because Dylan was such a good player,” Wiercinski said.

As for the limited field space, the players haven’t let it get to their heads—despite having to endure 6 a.m. practices as a result.

“It could have been a difficult change, but I think the guys have responded pretty well,” Wiercinski said.

In fact, it seems that despite these obstacles, the team has not only returned to its former caliber, but has maybe even surpassed it—something most evident on the attacking side of the ball.

“All the puzzle pieces are coming together,” Rueda Duran said. “We have a lot more technical prowess this year.”

Rueda Duran himself has flourished this season. He has already scored five goals and assisted four more this season, earning him NESCAC Player of the Week. This level of offensive production has the team in high spirits.

“The amount of goals that we’ve scored is really positive,” Selig said. “We normally do pretty well against the out-of-conference opponents, but we don’t always score six goals against Husson.”

Although happy with its first week of play, the team is not complacent.

“We’re excited about how good we can be. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting better everyday, and that’s exciting as a coach,” Wiercinski said. “It’s good to grow while winning.”

This Sunday, the team faces Connecticut College at home, which is expected to be a competitive game.

“It’s a long season,” Rueda Duran said. “We had a good first week, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t have a good second week.”


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