The University men’s soccer 2017 season is officially underway, and the phrase that seems to be on everyone’s mind is “three-peat.” Coming in first place in the Landmark Conference preseason poll, the men’s soccer team is incredibly hopeful to win the Landmark Conference championship for the third time this November.
Their season began Friday, September 1st, with a 3-1 win over Centenary University. Then, winning 3-1 again, on September 2nd, against Allegheny College. Two wins right off the bat seem to propel the Royals into a great spot for the rest of the season.
It is clear that the goal of the Royals this season is to win another championship, who would not want that? But with seven other teams in the Landmark Conference, it is going to be a fight.
“Obviously winning the last two [championships] we have a target on our backs from everybody else in the conference. They want to beat us that much more,” said senior defender, Kyle Robbins. “That’s on us now to prepare harder for those games and really give it everything we have against the conference schedule, because they’re going to be looking to take us down.”
The Royals begin conference play late in September, taking on Moravian College—ranked fourth in the preseason poll— on September 23. In order to make it to the playoffs, a team must beat out at least four other conference teams.
The next conference game on the schedule is Elizabethtown College. The Blue Jays were ranked at a close second, behind Scranton, in the preseason poll and seem to be the greatest threat to the “three-peat.”
Losing to them in the regular season last year, Scranton then clinched the 2016 Landmark Conference Champion title by beating Elizabthetown College. “We’re not going to forget about them, because they’re not going to forget about us. We’ve got to keep them in our eyes, but play it one game at a time,” said senior forward, Connor Casey.
The Royals finished out their 2016 season with 14 wins, four losses and one tie. A fantastic feat, thanks to the help of key players who are now returning strong in the 2017 season.
Casey and Robbins both scored goals in the first two games this season, along with seniors, Tim McGovern and Kieran Bracken, and junior Michael Donnelly. Casey was a top scorer for the Royals in 2016, finishing out the season with six goals.
With the conclusion of last season and the beginning of this one, the men’s soccer team graduated 10 seniors and picked up nine first-year students. “At first [the chemistry] was definitely not there, but I think each day it’s improving,” Casey said. “We’re getting to know the tendencies of each player and I think we’re learning to play off of each other. I think it showed in the two games.”
The coveted t-shirt, boldly displaying “Landmark Conference Champions,” can be seen around campus from time to time. Worn by the few who were able to achieve that title, and envied by athletes who were not.
Both Robbins and Casey have two, along with four other seniors — Gavin Coutts, James Harris, Liam Flynn and Tim McGovern. Kieran Bracken, the seventh senior who enters his second season with the Royals, has one.
For these seven men, this is the last time they can hope to win the shirt, and the title that comes along with it. When asked what he was looking forward to this season, Robbins said, “just getting out there one more time with the guys is exciting. Exciting and sad at the same time…I just want to be out there as much as we can.”
The University men’s soccer team looks to continue their winning streak Wednesday
on the road against Kings College.