After an uncharacteristically slow start, Men’s Soccer earned their first win of the season against Rhode Island College. The Saints were challenged this year, having six away games before being able to play on the more natural home field, but were definitely up for the challenge according to Senior captain Rob Brandell, stating “Our harder away schedule this year really helped us learn to play at a higher level as we prepare for our conference games coming up.” Brandell also stated that the team goes into this season focused and disciplined on themselves and their goals, which include winning the regular season Liberty League Championship and the post season championship, eventually hoping to earn their seventh consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament.
The Saints finished 2016 with an impressive 11-4-1 record, receiving an at large bid to the NCAA tournament. They have appeared in the NCAA tournament six years in a row, getting as far as the sweet sixteen in 2015. The team graduated five seniors, including three starters, but the team is not short of veterans. The Saints returned Seniors Luis Jimenez, Ryan Roche, and Captain Rob Brandell. They also return a strong junior class, full of key contributors from the 2016 season, including Tapshak Augustine, Jethro Dede, Brendan McNamee, Ryan Crouse, and goaltender Mike Smith. In addition, the Saints added ten first years to their roster, with Freshmen Sam Sapner and Dillon McDonough contributing big minutes and stepping up already.
The Saints started off their season traveling to Massachusetts to play Babson and Wheaton, both of which were NCAA tournament teams in 2016. They suffered a tough 2-3 loss at Babson, unable to overcome three goals scored by Babson during a 50-minute scoreless period for the Saints. Hoping to bounce back at Wheaton, the Saints battled their way to a 5-5 tie, with a goal from Jethro Dede forcing the game into overtime. Hoping to ride the momentum, the Saints then traveled to SUNY Oneonta, a battle of historically two top teams in the New York Region. The Saints were shutout 0-3, with SUNY Oneonta remaining undefeated on the season, but did not let it get them down to compete against Rhode Island College the following day. The Saints got a well-deserved 4-0 win, with four different players scoring, including Junior Stephen Dorney who scored his first collegiate goal. The saints garnered contributions from everyone on the roster in minutes, with the team showing good chemistry and everyone building each other up.
The Saints will travel the SUNY Oswego and SUNY Cortland September 15th and 16th. They hope to carry the momentum of their first win to pick up two non-conference wins before the start of Liberty League and home play on September 23rd against Union.