After finishing the 2014 season in the top eight, eliminated in the quarterfinals of the NCAA championships, the men’s soccer team took the field this Wednesday in anticipation of their 2015 season.
Last season the men’s soccer team went 19-3-1, which took them to the quarterfinals of the NCAA championships. This success earned them a preseason ranking of #7 in the NCAA Division III. The preseason ranking is decided by the National Soccer Coaches Athletic Association, and based on the previous season’s successes. Coach Coven commented, “It is always an honor to be ranked highly, but I don’t think the rankings put any extra pressure on the guys. They are a team with high hopes and goals without any other rankings.”
Nine seniors graduated from the team last year, including captains Tyler Savonen and Michael Soboff. Coach Coven commented on his unbelievably talented group of seniors, stating, “Last year’s senior class was special. Not just the guys who played big minutes, but the class as a whole was incredibly dedicated and focused and it really rubbed off on everyone else.” Savonen was a forward for the Judges who earned 2014 UAAA Player of the Year and NSCAA 1st team All American. Soboff, a midfielder for the Judges, will play professional soccer in Israel this coming year. Goalkeeper Joe Graffy was named an All American by D3Soccer.com. However, after losing all that talent, Coach Coven is excited for the new season ahead, “Last year we had a really special season … We will approach this year with the idea that this is a different team that is hungry to write its own chapter in Brandeis soccer, just like last year’s did.”
The team started Wednesday, morning bright and early towards a new season with new players and new goals. Apart from the ultimate goal of winning the NCAA tournament this year, the team looks to “work hard to get better every day, both on and off the field.” The team will return eight starters and several other contributors from the 2014 season. However, the coach looks to “integrate new faces into the program and the team.” Coach Coven isn’t concerned with the lost of talented seniors like Soboff and Savonen, because “every year for the past five or six seasons we have lost a group of really talented players and it’s always interesting watching who will step up and fill those voids that the seniors will have left.”
To start the Judges off this season, returning players Jake Picard ’16, Conor Lanahan ’16 and Robbie Lynch ’16 have been named captains for the 2015 season. This group of young men have all the qualifications to lead this team; Picard has started every game he has played in since his first year, including 21 games last season, and was named to the 2015 UAA Presidents Council Scholar-Athlete Team; Lanahan was named NSCAA All American last year and 2014 National DIII Soccer Defensive Player of the Year; and Lynch will be a returning captain with a year as a leader under his belt already, as well as putting up impressive numbers last season in his 23 games started. In addition to three well equipped captains, Coach Coven will look to returning players like Josh Ocel ’17 and Zach Vieira ’17, who contributed vital minutes last season, to help lead the team back to the NCAA tournament again this year.
Coven expressed immense confidence in his team, with regard to everyone from his captains to the incoming first-years. “It is always interesting with who is ready to compete and contribute right away and who might need a little bit more time … but overall we are very excited about this class and their potential to really be great members of Brandeis and Brandeis Soccer,” commented Coven in regards to his incoming players.
Coach Coven and the Brandeis men’s soccer team gear up for an exciting season ahead of them. Their first game is at home on Sept. 1 against Bridgewater State University starting at 7 p.m.