Nick McAdam, Tangerine Clerk
The Utica College men’s soccer team has posted a record of 2-3 record to start the season, which includes three games in the past week where the Pioneers posted a 1-2 line.
The goal echoed by the team is to improve on last year’s 8-9-2 record from their previous campaign. However, the UC men are still on pace for .400 win percentage based on their current record.
With copious amounts of experience on the current club, players, such as senior Alex Purcell, believe that anything short of winning the Empire 8 should be considered a failure among the team.
“I have a few personal goals, but as a team we said that our season wouldn’t be a success unless we won the Empire 8,” Purcell said.“Personally, I would like to finish the season with 10 goals and 10 assists as well as be voted to the All-Region team.”
Purcell is among nine other members of the 2018 UC soccer squad that will be playing their last season for the orange and blue. Going forward, the Pioneers are trying to combat the age gap with a recruiting class that looks strong on paper as 12 freshmen and sophomores comprise the team at the moment.
Purcell explained that he will miss the atmosphere that the UC men’s soccer team has been able to create for him over the past few years.
“The things I’m going to miss the most about the team will be team bonding and playing,” he said. “Four years seems like a lot, but I can say it went by way faster than I anticipated. I am going to miss bus rides and just spending time with the boys.”
Purcell has logged over 350 minutes for Utica so far this season. He scored a crucial goal against SUNY Cobleskill at home in a 4-3 Pioneer victory.
The Pioneers strategy for this season is to build from the back, so it all starts with the players in goal and on defense. Every player touches the ball to help drive it forward and hopefully finish each possession with a goal.
Looking at Utica’s recent recruitment landings, this strategy holds true as more than half of the underclassmen on the team are defenders or goalies.
Sophomore Nick Spooner is looking for big improvements both from himself and from the rest of his team this year.
“For this season, I hope our team can work together as a unit and come away with an impressive season,” Spooner said. “For me personally, I need to work on distribution and faster decision making.”
Spooner also hopes the team improves on maintaining possession.
“In goal, I like to build out of the back,” Spooner said. “The team as a whole looks incredible if they keep possession and move the ball from the back to front and finish with a goal. It’s a great feeling when the whole team contributes to scoring, and I believe it can start from the keeper.”
Spooner has yet to get in on any of action for the Pioneers, as junior keeper JD Side has collected all five starts. Side posted a clean sheet against the D’Youville Spartans, while making seven saves against SUNY Oswego in the recent game.
Side, Spooner, Purcell and the rest of the Utica College Pioneers soccer team are back home this Saturday, Sept. 15, to take on the Alfred University Saxons.