PRESQUE ISLE, Me (WAGM) - The UMPI men's soccer team is looking to build off some success towards the end of last season. And as Isaac Luken finds out, the team is optimistic about this season and are hungry to play in the postseason again.
"We have 11 outstanding returning players coming back for us with some experience and probably one of the best recruiting classes I've had in many years coming in. Potentially 3 or 4 of them will be starting for us to start the season," said head coach Alan Gordon.
"This year we are going to be working on moving the ball around on the back line keeping possession. Try to play a little more of a smart game and keep our heads on straight," said senior Chris Daly.
Gordon says injuries slowed the team down last season, but when they were healthy they were able to rattle off three wins in a row.
"First weekend last year we had four major starters go down. The next week we had two more. We battled the rest of the season trying to get them back on track. It took us until the last third of the season to get them back and when we did we were able to run off some wins. We're hoping to keep everyone healthy and start that run at the beginning this year," Gordon added.
The team ended the season by playing in the ACAA conference playoffs. While the tournament didn't go quite as planned, the team enjoyed the playoff experience.
"It was awesome because we had something to play for, but we came up just short. We were up by two goals and ended up losing 3-2. It left a bitter taste in our mouths. This year we want to come back and win and make the championship game that we should have been in last year. We have something to prove this year," said senior Matthew Manter.
The team already has played a few regular season games and are trying to improve on
"Good ball movement and working together and good spacing. Everyone knowing their role and what they need to do and try to overdo anything," explained senior Michael Guerrette.
"Just keeping our spaces open, just distributing the ball well. We keep our heads up and just watch where our teammates are moving so that we are not running into each other and causing trouble for ourselves," added senior Sean Barbosa.