Published: November 20, 2015
The University’s men’s soccer team ended its historic season in the second round of the III NCAA tournament Sunday.
The Royals entered the postseason with a record of 10-6-2 after beating Elizabethtown College 3-2 in the Landmark Conference championship game Nov. 7.
In its first game of the tournament, the Royals beat the University of Massachusetts Boston 2-0. Sophomores Connor Casey and A.J. Nardone scored the Royals’ two goals, and junior goalkeeper Eric Hintz rejected every shot by the opposing team.
The team was unable to beat St. Lawrence University in the second round of the tournament, falling 0-2. Despite the unfortunate end to the season, the team is proud of how they were able to overcome adversity and prove naysayers wrong.
Hintz said the Royals, who were not projected to do much in the postseason, seized the opportunity of making the playoffs.
“Going into the NCAA tournament, we all went in viewing it as bonus soccer,” Hintz said. “We weren’t really expected to do too much. We were expected to make the Landmark Conference playoffs, and that was it. So when we won the Landmark Conference championship, it was a bonus. We knew we wanted it, and we knew we could do it.”
Hintz also noted the team’s positive mindset going into the playoffs was to play hard and have fun. The attitude helped contribute to the team’s first-round victory.
“We really just went out and had fun, and it contributed a lot. We played as hard as we could, worked for each other and we ended up getting a 2-0 win out of it,” Hintz said.
Sophomore forward Connor Casey said although the season ended sooner than the team would have liked, it was an incredible journey to be on.
“We really had one heck of a year. We started off a little weak, as we started off 0-2. But we turned things around late in the season, and we were able to make a run deep into the playoffs. We won a game and surprised everyone because nobody really thought we would be there. So it was definitely a fun ride to have,” Casey said.
Casey also referred back to the Landmark Conference championship game, in which the Royals won thanks to a barrage of quick scoring. The egteam refused to give up, and its resiliency helped lead them to a landmark victory.
“We were very proud of ourselves for coming back from being down 1-0 to come back and tie it. Then we scored two goals in 23 seconds. We were really ecstatic and it was a great feeling to win the conference for the first time in 30 years,” Casey said.
Although the Royals will be graduating three seniors, the experience from the postseason should help the team next season. Casey said the hope is the momentum from this year will carry over into next season.
“I think next year we’ll have a lot of good experience in the playoffs, because our main group is returning. So we’re definitely going to be back and we’re going to be hungry. We know the work we need to put in during the offseason for us to make the same kind of run next year,” Casey said.
The Royals hope the returning talent can help produce another NCAA Tournament berth in 2016.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org