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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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March 4, 2024
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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The Main Target

A soggy home pitch may have been just what UMass Boston’s men’s soccer team needed.

After dropping their first two games of the season on the road – 2-0 to Fitchburg State and 1-0 to Emerson College – the Beacons needed desperately to get in the win column. Their home field provided that spark, as the Beacons found their offensive stride, defeating Suffolk University 4-0 last Tuesday on The Peninsula.

Soccer can be a frustrating game, with minimal scoring and one mistake swinging the momentum of an entire game. Myles Berry, the team’s coach has always put defense first and made sure that his teams do as much as possible to avoid allowing major scoring chances. They had done a good job of that so far this season, but you can’t win if you don’t score goals.

After losing a bevy of seniors, junior goalie Paul Maniscalco to a job in New York and Ludji Chipps, a tall, physical presence up front to a case of the no-shows, Berry was scrapping for offensive help wherever he could find it. In the off-season, Berry’s main recruits were junior defenseman Collins Dibia, junior forward Mourad Chibane and junior “utility man” Matt Parentele. These additions were here to solidify the team and provide an offensive boost.

In the Beacon’s first win of the season, those transfers, along with co-captain Romeo Zeqo, all chipped in at a point when Berry was not sure at all about the chemistry of his mostly young team. Chibane and Dibia both scored goals for the Beacons, while Zeqo, who could make a run at Little East Player of the Year honors, scored twice and assisted on Chibane’s goal 12:26 into the first half.

This game could prove to be a coming out party for a Beacons team that Berry insists has the talent to match or surpass the team’s 2007 win total of eight games.

Of course, the loss of so many seniors can not be over looked, but as Berry said last week, “All those [other] teams have turnover too.”

What UMass Boston’s turnover has done is bring to the forefront senior Romeo Zeqo and his 25 career goals as a Beacon. According to Berry, Zeqo has been the team’s best player for “a few years now.” Last season, Berry would have stayed away from proclaiming something like that, presumably for fear that Zeqo’s ego would get in the way of his ability to create on the field.

Zeqo is like a great NBA point guard, similar to Chris Paul or Isiah Thomas before him. He’s the ultimate creator, the man that everything goes through. He’s always in the middle of things, as he was last Tuesday. Every time the ball entered the opposition’s end, Zeqo had a foot, knee, chest or head on it pronto. He was always involved.

What makes him special is what makes/made Paul and Thomas so special. On one hand, they are the ultimate creators, facilitating offense and making everyone around them better. But on the other, they can attack at any second and dissect an opposing defense like a frog in Bio 101. What a no-look pass is to Paul, a nifty heel flick is to Zeqo. What a slash to the basket was for Thomas, a rocket into the corner of the net is to Zeqo.

Zeqo is the type of player that makes soccer look easier than it really is, and this isn’t inflating his ego or puffing him up. It’s like watching Randy Moss run, or Dustin Pedroia hit. It’s hard as hell, but they make it look easy.

As Zeqo goes, so go the Beacons this season. The pressure lies squarely on his shoulders. Opposing teams will know that. It will make his life on the field harder. But hopefully, it will only bring out the best in him.

Ryan Thomas can be reached at [email protected]

About the Contributor
Ryan Thomas served as the sports editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2007-2008; 2008-2009