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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Back of the Net: Jaspers land Hokies transfer

The spring cannot come soon enough for the Manhattan Jaspers men’s soccer team. For those who did not follow the Jasper’s 2014 fall season, it was not one they would like to remember.

From Sept. 19 to Oct. 11, they were goalless in 587 straight minutes, a span of six games played. That was not their only problem. Their struggle to find the back of the net – no pun intended – also had them on a 13 game losing streak after starting the season 1-1.

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Back of the Net: Season meanings

Luke Greaves tying his shoes during practice. Photo taken by Jonathan Reyes.
Luke Greaves tying his shoes during practice. Photo taken by Jonathan Reyes.

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.

Next thing they knew, they were on the team bus taking a 14-hour round trip to take on the Niagara Purple Eagles in cold, freezing temperatures with a rain and snow mix falling.

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Alex Shackley: Average height, big heart

This is one of four articles nominated as a finalist at the ’15 “The Quadrangle” staff awards.

It was Alex Shackley’s senior year at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas when Justin Mayorga, a former high school teammate, lost his sister Jessica at the age of 22. No cause of death was ever found.

“I look back at that day and I remember every single second of it,” Alex said, who played center mid-field for the Palo Verde soccer team.

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Back of the Net: Freshmen Jaspers face personal adjustments, challenges

Joe Hulme (c.) catching his breath during stoppage in play during practice last week preparing for the Jaspers’s second MAAC game against the Monmouth Hawks. Photo taken by Jonathan Reyes.
Joe Hulme catching his breath during stoppage in play during practice last week preparing for the Jaspers’s second MAAC game against the Monmouth Hawks. Photo taken by Jonathan Reyes.

As the season reaches its mid-point for the Manhattan Jaspers, the 10 freshmen Jaspers are no longer new to the team and fans.

Three of the freshmen who have been quite impressive early on are Joe Hulme, Jose Meza and Luke Greaves. Understandably so, Manhattan head coach Jorden Scott said all of the freshmen have been excellent.

“They’ve all came in and been really mature, which is really pleasing to me,” he said. “And for them you just hope they pick up enough that they can contribute. If they don’t pick up enough then it’s going to be a tough season for them.”

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Back of the Net: Manhattan struggles on offense

Tommy Amos, left, Alex Shackley, center, and Alex Coates McDowall, right, during player introductions before the first game of the year at Lehigh. Photo taken by Jonathan Reyes

At about the mid-point part of their season, the Manhattan Jaspers have been shutout in their last four games, a total of 402 minutes.

They need a goal and soon.

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Back of the Net: Men’s Soccer Shutout in Last Three Games

Before the Ivy League weekend at Yale and Harvard, the Manhattan Jaspers were on a 10-day “honeymoon period,” as Jaspers’ head coach Jorden Scott called it, from when they last played and lost to the Fordham Rams 3-1.

Alex Shackley (l.) chases down La Salle Explorer George Breslin. Photo taken by Kevin Fuhrmann.

A couple of positives junior captain Alex Shackley took away from the long break was being able to work on an attacking style of play to try to help turn their many goal chances into goal scores. Scott said his team needs to be more clinical in front of the goal, which includes being more selfish and direct at times.

The Jaspers’ honeymoon ended fast, as they struggled to score in the last three games, all to non-conference opponents.

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Battle of the Bronx: Jaspers lose to Rams

After coming off their first win of the season at St. Francis-Brooklyn, the Manhattan Jaspers (2-1) men’s soccer team lost 3-1 to the Fordham Rams (2-2-1).

The Jaspers have three non-conference games remaining before they start MAAC play on Oct. 1. Photo taken by Jonathan Reyes.

At St. Francis, senior captain Tommy Amos said the Jaspers’ “fitness prevailed in the end” to help lead them to victory. Against the Rams, sophomore Daniel Laguna Kennedy, who scored the Jaspers’ only goal on a penalty kick, said almost the complete opposite.

“Our legs were tired,” said Kennedy, “but there’s no excuse. We should’ve probably done better.”

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