As the start of the 2014-15 season approaches for Manhattan College’s men’s soccer, the Jaspers plan to make a return to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference postseason play for a second straight year after reaching their first four-team tournament in 12 seasons last year.
A Whole Lot of Up and Down
In the early weeks of the 2013 season the Jaspers faced some tough opposition in Army, Delaware and Syracuse. Each matchup ended in a loss, eventually snowballing into a six game losing streak to begin the Jaspers’ season.
Head Coach Jorden Scott tied the slow start to “a steep learning curve for [freshman]” on the team who were starters.
“That was mainly due to the inexperience of the group, the starting team,” said Scott.
Once MAAC play started, the Jaspers took their stride. They finished the season with an impressive 5-3-2 record in conference play and finished with an overall record of 5-10-3.
The team is looking to take its success in conference play and hope something similar stems into its non-conference play with the overall depth, experience and talent of the team, Scott said.
Senior captain Tommy Amos dates the struggles away from the conference to the 2012-13 season.
“Outside conference play hasn’t been our strong point in the last two years,” said Amos.
Signs of Improvement
Although the Jaspers had such an uneven season last year, MAAC preseason polling – voted on by all men’s soccer head coaches around the league – ranked them fifth. This “doesn’t phase [coaches] one bit…expectation only comes outside of us,” said Scott.
Top Five MAAC Teams, according to the Preseason Poll
As for the players it may be extra motivation, he said.
Amos is also not concerned about the preseason poll. He is confident in Scott and the team that is going to build off of last season. That being said, he still sees the four teams polled ahead of them as “really great programs…very tough, very strong.”
“It’s not a bad thing we are right behind them or other teams,” said Amos. “We just do what we do.”
One head coach from the MAAC who speaks highly of the Jaspers is Iona’s Fernando Barboto. He credits the team’s growth and toughness over the last two seasons to Scott.
The Jasper’s are solid at all positions, a luxury other schools don’t have, he said.
“Collectively they are a strong squad,” said Barboto. “I don’t think there are two superstars on that team. And I don’t mean that with any disrespect. I mean that from top to bottom they are just a tough team.”
There may not be “two superstars,” per se, but two players to watch are rising sophomores Daniel Laguna Kennedy, who made the All-MAAC Second Team and MAAC All-Rookie Team, and Alex Coates McDowall.
What about Now?
Aside from winning the MAAC title, junior captain Alex Shackley said he wants to prepare freshmen for the future to compete for a MAAC championship and make it to the NCAA tournament year after year as “a strong force.”
“It’s not only about now,” said Shackley. “It’s about the future.”