Christian Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College men’s soccer team has had an up and down season thus far.
They currently hold an overall record of 5-5 and are 0-2 in Empire 8 play, but Junior forward Alex Purcell isn’t worried about the struggles at all and still sees the team’s goal of making the NCAA tournament as reachable.
“Initially we knew that we were going to have a pretty good team,” Purcell said. “We had Tucker Marvin transfer in from Le Moyne and knew of a few freshmen that were going to give us large amounts of minutes this season.”
Purcell played four years of varsity soccer at Lansing High School. He helped lead the Bobcats to States four years in a row. He wasn’t only a soccer player, he also loved to play hockey and had no intentions of stopping until he had to to choose one or the other.
Purcell came to Utica College with his best friend J.D. Side. They went to the same school prior to UC and wanted to transfer somewhere together.
“We came to visit UC and fell in love,” Purcell said. “The facilities here are unparalleled by other Division III schools.”
Purcell says he and his best friend also loved the chemistry of the men’s soccer team and how friendly the athletes are.
“Obviously everyone isn’t going to be friends with everyone,” Purcell said. “But as a team, we are very close and we all respect each other as players and do what we can to work together to achieve our goals.”
According to the UC Pioneers website, Purcell is averaging 2.50 shots and .038 goals in eight games. He had a season high of two goals and an assist in just 12 minutes of play in a win over New Rochelle.
Purcell says the reason why he loves soccer so much is because of his varsity coach who unexpectedly passed away at age 42.
“We had a very good program which led to my motivation,” Purcell said. “Our head coach was a large member of the community from my hometown and over my four years of high school, we became very close.”
Senior teammate Andrew Ruyack, who missed a season recovering from an ACL injury, says that the addition of Purcell has been great to the men’s soccer team.
“As well as being a good, smart and technical player, he is a good friend,” Ruyack said.
Ruyack said that Purcell’s arrival to Utica has been beneficial on the field as well as off the field.
“On the field, he is a great playmaker and a work horse,” Ruyack said. “His passion for the game makes it contagious to everyone around him, raising the level of play for the team.”
Ruyack feels that Purcell’s addition to the team helped the program as a whole, and playing along side him is always entertaining.
Junior defender Connor Nolte feels Purcell is one of the hardest working individuals on the team.
“He won and killed our fitness test on our first day of preseason which really set the mood for the season,” Nolte said. “He also happens to be one of our captains and can really motivate a group even when we are losing.”
According to Nolte, aside from being a great soccer player, Purcell is also one of the funniest players on the team.
“Alex can make any hard practice or moment much easier with his sense of humor,” Nolte said.
Nolte is confident in Purcell as an upperclassmen to help the men’s soccer team be all it can be.
“I can’t think of many other people on the team I’d want as our leader,” Nolte said. “He is a friend and a standup member of the UC family.”