The Manhattan College men’s soccer team got its second off-season win on Sunday in a scrimmage against the Queen’s College Knights.
In addition to an opposing lineup of large, physical players, the Jaspers had to play through driving rain and powerful winds.
“The weather played a huge factor,” said sophomore center-midfielder Josh Binfield. “Anybody can win.”
Center-midfielder and team captain Tommy Amos, however, put any doubts to rest with an unassisted goal from just outside the penalty area. Amos’s goal came in the 35th minute and put the Jaspers in the lead 1-0.
The second goal came courtesy of Alex Shackley, who also plays center-midfield. Shackley scored in the 85th minute of play on a one-on-one with the opposing goalkeeper.
“He is probably the luckiest recruit I think I’ve ever found,” said Jorden Scott, MC’s head coach.
Shackley’s breakaway goal was assisted by Amos. The goal broke the 1-1 standoff that lasted the last quarter of the game.
The Division II Knights played a mostly defensive game, for which they were well-suited with their almost exclusively 6 feet and taller lineup of players. The opponent’s large stature was a factor in the decision to schedule the scrimmage, Binfield said.
“Nobody was afraid,” said Binfield. “I think the reason he wanted us to play them was to build character.”
Even though the Jaspers maintained possession for the majority of the game, the team struggled to finish at the net.
“We’re dominating games with possession,” said Scott. “We’re losing games because, in transition, we would make mistakes that not everyone would be on board with.”
At one point, a cross made by forward Eugene Heerschap from the right side landed directly on the right foot of forward Danny Kennedy. Kennedy’s shot went wide by a couple yards to the left of the net.
Another shot by Kennedy from close quarters was saved by the Knights’ goalkeeper.
“I’d like to see the team improve with our consistency,” said Shackley.
Shackley was recently named junior captain. The team tries to have one senior and one junior captain each season.
As he demonstrated Sunday on the field, Shackley’s appointment as captain can be attributed, in part, to his superb conditioning and overall physical fitness. Amos and Shackley will be leading the team next Fall as they look toward making it further in the MAAC. The team lost its first-round tournament game in penalty kicks against Monmouth this past season.
“They want to win one,” said Scott. “They want to win a tournament.”
Amos will succeed Daniel Festa as the head captain for the team. Festa, along with Sam Howard, Chris Lands, Stefano Carlacci, Carlo Giachino, Sean Towey and Erick Montinard, will be graduating in May.
Joining the squad next season will be what Scott describes as one of the strongest recruitment classes the team has ever had.
“The recruitment class we have coming in is particularly strong in terms of size and physicality,” said Scott, “slightly more on the defensive end because I felt we needed to make that area stronger and deeper.”
The team that goes out on the field next season will be the most heavily researched lineup since Scott was hired as assistant coach to Ashley Hammond three years ago. When they first arrived in January and February of that year, there had been no signs of any recruitment process whatsoever, forcing them to work from scratch. Most of the recruits coming to Manhattan in the Fall, however, have been on Scott’s radar for the past two years.
The Jaspers will play at home against the ASA College Avengers next weekend at 7 p.m. The players on Manhattan said the upcoming game will be its toughest scrimmage yet. Another win by the Jaspers will put them in good standing to be a formidable contender next season.
Weather permitting; this scrimmage will be an opportunity for the team to develop the depth and technical skill of the squad, which will be the cornerstone for the team’s success in the season to come.
“As much as we want to play pretty soccer, we have to be ruthless in every game,” said Shackley.