Men’s soccer team striving to meet last year’s expectations

Philip Zoppi – Sports Writer

The Southern Connecticut State men’s soccer team climbed to as high as No. 5 in the national rankings last year. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s preseason poll has the Owls ranked No. 16 this year.

The Owls only have five returning seniors. Among those seniors is team captain, Tyler Naef. He thinks that the expectations of being ranked high nationally should be the same as last year, as long as the team can build some chemistry.

“Expectations are probably the same. We have a lot of incoming players so we have to make sure everyone is on the same page and building chemistry,” said Naef.

Being the team captain has a lot of responsibility to it. Naef’s teammate and fellow senior, Josh Abromaitis, said he thinks Naef does a good job handling it.

“Tyler’s been a great leader ever since I came to Southern,” he said. “He’s helped all the new guys transition onto the team which is really great.  We expect great things from him.”

Not only does Abromaitis think that Naef is a good leader, he also agrees with Naef’s assessment of the expectations of this team.

“Expectations are set very high just like last year,” said Abromaitis. “Last year we were ranked pretty low in the beginning of the year. We have our first two games coming up pretty soon and expect to get two wins and get off on a good start.”

With Naef and Abromaitis being the elder statesman of the team, they have to get the new players ready. Nine freshmen are joining the team this year, so chemistry will play an important role if the team wants to get back to playing in high pressure and meaningful games late in the season.

Chae Brangman, Northeast-10 Rookie of the Year, knows all about high-pressure games and moments.

Brangman assisted on one of the biggest goals the Owls scored all of last season. In the Northeast-10 semifinals, he assisted on the game-winning goal vs. Adelphi. He sees no reason why they can’t make it back to where they were last year.

“I think we’re only going to be better this year. This team can be just as good as last years team,” said Brangham. “Winning rookie of the year has only made me want to work harder this year. I’m just focused on being better than last year.”

Brangman had six goals and four assists his freshmen year.

In addition to being ranked No.16 in the NSCAA preseason poll, the Owls were ranked the second best team in the New England-10 coaches poll. They received one first place vote as Southern New Hampshire took all of the other first place votes.

Southern’s season ended last year when they played Southern New Hampshire in the Northeast-10 conference championship game, losing 5-2. They figure to be Southern’s biggest competition this year.

The Owls have ranked very high in a lot of polls and look to be a good team again this year but Naef didn’t want the team getting too ahead of themselves.

“Our team has a lot of new kids so we don’t know what we’re are going to be looking at until we play,” said Naef when asked how this team compares to last years team. “We have a quality soccer team here. A lot of good players want to come here and play so we should be good.”

Photo Credit: Southern Owls Website


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