BY JOSEPH SIEGEL
The Sacred Heart University men’s soccer team is getting ready to begin conference play. Their first conference game will be against LIU Brooklyn on Sunday, Oct. 8.
The team had significant success last year when they secured their first Northeast Conference (NEC) Tournament berth since 2011. The team is striving to get back there this year after putting in hard work during the offseason.
With new talent and familiar faces, the team has all the pieces to make the push to get back to the NEC playoffs.
“Every year the goal stays the same, it’s to make the NEC playoffs,” said head coach Joe Barroso. “Only the top four teams make it, so that’s our goal for now and we’ll take it from there.”
Senior defenseman Dylan Santos, believes that the team’s confidence will be an advantage this year against their conference adversaries.
“We should definitely get a playoff spot. We see ourselves matching up well in conference play,” said Santos.
The Pioneers played four games during a homestand from Sept. 9-20, ending the stretch with a 3-1 record. Two of these matches were sent into single overtime periods against Saint Joseph’s University and Iona College. The games against Saint Peter’s University and Siena College were forced into double overtime. The loss suffered by the Pioneers was to Siena in the 109th minute of play.
“It’s always great when you win in overtime, because it’s sudden death. I believe the game we lost was the game we played the best. The latest game we won was against Iona, they are a very good team so there’s a lot of positivity building off from that win,” said Barosso.
The team is currently focusing on the experience and maturity that has come from their extended performances, which will help them throughout the whole season.
“It was hard because every other day we had to play a 110-minute game during the four game homestand. The positives outweigh the negatives though; these games get us through adversity,” said senior Ermir Celaj.
Barroso and the coaching staff are happy with the teams play over the exhibition games. The team has a lot of work to do, but Coach wants the team to get the job done within the 90-minute time period.
“It shows the team is fit and is always ready to win no matter the circumstances,” said Barroso. “We’ll fix things as the season goes on, but for now I’m so proud of what these guys have been doing.”
The team is focusing on being on the same page and having an unbreakable chemistry, and these qualities were showcased in their exhibition games.
“It really defined who we are as a group. When it comes down to it, we fight until the last minute. We just really want to win; we’re not going to let it slip,” said Celaj.