Rome wasn’t built in a day and a successful team isn’t either. The Keene State College Men’s soccer team is off to a less than desirable start, beginning the season losing their first four games.
During their losing streak, the Owls have been outscored by 15-1 combined points in games against Castleton, Springfield, MIT and Wheaton.
“We can’t keep the ball out of the net right now,” Junior midfielder Conor Leahy said.
After losing ten seniors to graduation last Spring, the Owls are now left with a young roster, including 12 first-years. According to Mens Soccer Coach Rick Scott, injuries have put a strain on the team and rushed the development of the new players.
The missing players are: Matt Langford, Hunter Decarolis (Concussions), Riley Steele (sprained meniscus), Conor Leahy (bruised foot), Jonathan Pena (broken collarbone) and Aiden Dean (disciplinary suspension).
“We’ve got very young, inexperienced players in key positions, and not having the necessary depth, because all these guys are out, they get worn down in the college game. They’ll be fine, they’ll get stronger, but that’s hurt our depth. You’d like to bring these guys on a little slower, but we threw them right into the fire,” Scott said.
With such inexperience at nearly every position, the upperclassmen leaders on the team have stepped in to try to guide their
younger teammates. However, many players have been unable to lace up for these recent games. Scott’s team is currently understaffed because of a long list of injuries and one disciplinary punishment. As a result he has been forced to go without six of his usual starters, including three out of his four starting defenders, leaving the defense vulnerable.
KSC senior captain Eddie Mercier said that the lack of experience will have little impact on the team in the long run.
“There’s obviously going to be a learning curve. We’re not too worried about it as a team. We’re just going to keep pushing forward and we know it’ll get better,” Mercer said.
Mercer continued, “What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to keep it positive, keep working as hard as we can and show the younger guys that it’s ok to make mistakes, they will happen, but we just have to keep working together and push through it and we’ll get where we need to be.”
In time, both the coach and players said that the missing pieces will return and the puzzle will all come together.
“If the guys can stay patient, not get frustrated, and continue to compete we’ll be okay,” Scott said.
The Owls have been in a similar situation before. Last year they started the season losing three of their first four games. They ended the regular season with a record of 8-1-1 in their final ten games, earning them an appearance in the Little East Conference finals, which they lost in double overtime to UMass. Boston.
“This isn’t a new spot for us unfortunately, but we know how to get out of it and we will,” Mercer said.
Leahy said he has also stayed optimistic despite his team’s misfortune.
“You can’t count us out, we’ve done it the last two or three years,” Leahy said.
According to Scott, the injured will all be returning by next week and the Owls will be at full strength.
“I think we’ll get healthy. I think that’ll give us the depth that we need,” Scott continued, “I think we’ll continue to get better every day, because we do work hard and we don’t give up. So I think all of those things will help us become the team we want to be.”
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