Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Dreams of winning while at Disney World

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

In a year when we could safely assume who the MAAC regular season title champions were going to be — Monmouth University — by the end of September, which is about a quarter of the way through. The conference was still unsurprisingly, to at least one coach: Iona College head soccer coach Fernando Barboto, competitive.

At the start of non-conference play, he said “last year the conference had a really good year” and predicted “the league is going to be even stronger this year.” He was half-right. Six teams had winning records, both last season and the one we just had. So the MAAC had another “really good year” but it wasn’t “even stronger.” The last time the conference had less than five teams with winning records was in ’12 when there was four. It has had consistent competitiveness since.

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Seeding out personal goals

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

With the MAAC regular season coming to an end, the teams with the best records are Monmouth University — clinched regular season title, Rider, Iona College and Marist. Two takeaways from those four is Monmouth, who are the defending conference champions, and Quinnipiac not seeding at the top.

The former is self-explanatory, as for the latter, the simple reason is that Cesar Markovic, Siena head soccer coach, told “The ‘J’ Effect” this a few weeks ago:

“The MAAC is up for grabs. You have your usual suspects but you also have some teams that can surprise people from the bottom. The preseason poll is worthless, it doesn’t mean anything. The first or second conference games don’t exactly decide everything. If you check back around game five or six, that’s when you really start to see who’s shaping up and what’s happening.”

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Mountain Hawks are regular season champions… so far

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

The non-conference matches have come and gone. Conference play is finally here. This is when the win-loss record begins to matter

Monmouth University, Marist College, Siena, Iona and Saint Peter’s are the current top five seeds in the MAAC, in that order. Although the teams mentioned are in the upper-echelon, the conference is tightly contested based on the margins of wins; losses; and draws. In the words of the recently passed Yankees legend Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

The teams at the bottom have been faced with loss after loss with a couple of frustrating draws sprinkled in. One of those is Niagara, led by second-year head coach Eric Barnes, who said his squad was tested during non-conference but now feels prepared and complete, in terms of his roster.

“We haven’t gotten the results that we would like,” he said, “but we’ve been dealing with a couple of injuries. We should have everyone back and healthy by conference, so that’ll be helpful. The guys have really stuck together even with the results. They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do, so we should be good to go going forward.”

Meza running the ball down field against Lehigh on Sept. 2. Photo taken by Kevin Furhmann.

Meza running the ball down field against Lehigh on Sept. 2. Photo taken by Kevin Furhmann.

Manhattan is similar to Niagara in that its games haven’t gone the way that it’d like them to go. Jose Meza, Manhattan midfielder/forward, said the 2-2 draw with NJIT on Sept. 20 showed when the team controls possession, allows time, creates chances and lands shots on goal it can reach its ceiling.

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Jasper senior co-captain, Alex Shackley, on the ’15 season’s outlook

Disclaimer: This interview was conducted prior to the start of the ‘15 MAAC men’s soccer season.

If there ever was to be a definition for how ‘14 was for Manhattan College last season. Look no further than the second to last “Back of the Net” column “Season Meanings.” Its opening read as follows:

The Manhattan Jaspers found themselves looking up at every other school in the MAAC after failing to win 12 straight games from early September to late October. … To this point in the season, the offense was inconsistent. They went through a 587-minute goalless streak in a span of six games and followed that up with only three goals in the five games leading up to Niagara. … Throughout the entire season, Scott’s message was about how all it took for either team playing on the soccer field was one mistake, one moment of brilliance, one horrific decision.

Three games into ‘15, Manhattan is off to an 0-3 start. Jon Reyes recently conducted a conference call interview with one of the team’s midfielders, Alex Shackley, to discuss the state of the squad going forward.

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Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Mountain Hawks set up for repeat?

This is a column that takes a look at all of the MAAC men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the season and off-season.

As the ‘14 regular season came to a close, Quinnipiac University had to have felt pretty good about itself heading into the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the MAAC conference. Its goal, as is every other teams’, is to win the MAAC final for the championship title. It lost to Fairfield on penalty kicks, 3-1, before it could even think of a rematch with Monmouth.

Monmouth won its match against Iona College, 2-1, to advance and face-off with Fairfield in the championship. On a Dave Nigro golden goal in the 104th minute, Monmouth won 2-1. For its stay in the NCAA tournament, that didn’t last long because it lost in double overtime to No. 14 nationally ranked Xavier in the first round 2-1. Talk about irony to win or lose by the same exact score.

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