Call it a chip on their shoulders, or a monkey off their backs, the men’s soccer team looks to move on after shaking off their worst start in program history.
Going into Wednesday’s game against Worcester State College, the team faced the daunting task of turning around an 0-5 start.
This is the worst start the men’s soccer team has had since the program started.
Head coach Ron Butcher had his mind clear on what they needed to do to get over the deficit.
“An honest effort,” Butcher said, “Not 15 minutes, not 40 minutes. We need 90 minutes. We need to put together two super halves.”
Putting together two great halves has been tough for the Owls thus far, as Butcher cited inconsistency with a bit of bad luck as the primary reasons for their struggles.
“The other night [against Endicott], in the first five minutes we score, and they call it offside,” Butcher lamented.
“Second half, we’re down 3-2, and we hit one off the crossbar. Last five minutes of the game, Douglas, I don’t know why, he just didn’t score the goal we needed.”
Butcher does not see any lack of leadership on the field, however. “I think we have tremendous captains in Malcolm Cheney and Pat Anthony, I think we’re just snakebitten [caught by bad luck] right now,” Butcher said.
Junior back/midfielder Nate Banas echoed his coach’s perspective, and just wants to move on from the 0-5 start.
“Our mindset was ‘let’s get this monkey off our back and get that first win’,” Banas said. “So we can start moving forward from these losses.”
And that’s just what they did.
In dramatic fashion, coming back from a 2-1 deficit with less than 20 minutes to go, the Owls pushed ahead to get that monkey off their backs and get one in the win column.
Banas cited a complete game effort as the reason for their victory.
“It was a full ninety-minute effort and actually working as a team and communicating,” he said.
Senior goalkeeper and captain of the soccer team Malcolm Cheney was just as relieved to move forward past this start.
“We felt like we were unlucky, and the little things that mattered weren’t going our way” Cheney said. “But getting that win is a big turnaround for us.”
Coach Butcher ran a very up-tempo, “rock-em sock-em” practice on Tuesday before the game against Worcester State, and Cheney said he believes that practice is part of what propelled them to victory.
“It was a great practice, we played each other like opponents, and it allowed us to figure out what we had been doing wrong,” Cheney said.
Moving forward from this, Cheney wants to have a clean slate, but not forget what they went through.
“It’s definitely a chip on our shoulders,” Cheney explained. “We want to improve from that. This win is a huge momentum boost for us against our biggest rivals on Saturday.”
The Owls rode their newfound momentum to another victory against those rivals, Plymouth State, on Sunday. It was their first game against a Little Eastern Conference opponent and it showed that maybe they don’t have so far to climb after all.
This time it wasn’t so close, either—the team won in a 5-0 blowout. So now the team is building off of back to back wins.
Moving ahead from an 0-5 start is no easy task, and it is something Butcher hoped to not see again for a long time.
“If you win, you can do nothing wrong, but when you lose, everybody nit-picks, and that’s what drives me nuts,” Butcher said. “When you’re losing, the little things get magnified.”
The Owls still have 11 games left in their schedule, which is plenty of time for them to put together a good record.
But as far as Banas was concerned after his team’s first win, the season restarted.
“We’re not 1-5, we’re 1-0 now and we’re moving forward.”
So now, they have a winning streak to deal with.
Ray Waldron can be contacted at email@example.com