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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Beacons Season Ends in Nailbiter

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Abdu Wahab
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UMass Boston fought valiantly to the very end on a cold and blistery night at Plymouth State’s home field in the White Mountains of New Hampshire this past Thursday night (Nov. 2). After two overtime periods that could not break a 1-1 tie, and a nail biting shoot-out, the Beacons fell short when it came to advancing in the LEC championship tournament but not when it came to displaying the heart and toughness that was the hallmark of this season.

With most of the starters returning next year, the team should continue to develop and build on their rise to the top of an especially competitive conference. Historically the Beacons have struggled with conference opponents but this year’s crew showed much improvement in dealing with high pressure situations and maintaining composure late in close games.

Though the first round loss to Plymouth was no doubt a disappointment for the players, the overall season was far from disappointing, and as 2006 LEC Head Coach of the year Myles Berry pointed out to his team after the match, “When it comes to these tournaments, unless you win the whole thing, you always finish with a loss.”

Among this season’s highlights was a late season run that included a 1-0 double overtime win at Clark University (ranked 20th in the nation), a 4-0 lambasting of last years LEC champion Western Connecticut State, and perhaps their most impressive and complete match, a thrilling 3-2 victory in double overtime at the home of this years eventual LEC champion and perennial conference powerhouse Keene State, a victory which clinched a playoff berth for the Beacons. Both Coach Berry and many of his players agree that the Keene State game, the final match of the regular season, is one they will not soon forget, and stands out as perhaps the culmination of all the hard work put in and progress made by the team over the course of the season. The momentum of this fall’s positive trends should continue into the next season. Despite the loss of graduating senior co-captain and First Team All-Star defender Mike Reda, the rest of the team’s core should stay intact. That nucleus includes three key sophomores, First Team All-Star midfielder Romeo Zeqo, First Team All-Star forward John DePietro, and Second Team All-Star goalkeeper Paul Maniscalco, who has now made the second team two years running. Other standouts deserving of recognition include junior midfielder and co-captain Guilherme Goncalves, who’s leadership and skill was integral to the teams success, and junior defender Anthony Cataldo, who in this reporter’s humble opinion “gots robbed” of an All-Star selection, but as Reda pointed out “sometimes numbers lie”. However this is not a team built on star power, but rather on will power, cohesive team play and on Coach Berry’s favorite theme of “gettin’ dirty”.

In just his fourth season as Head Coach, Berry, the first ever soccer coach of the year from UMass Boston, led the Beacons to their highest overall and conference win total in seven years, posting an 11-7-1 mark, including a 4-3 record in LEC play. Prior to the season, UMass, which was selected eighth out of eight teams in the pre-season coaches’ poll, had not beaten a ranked team, advanced to the conference playoffs or registered double-digits in wins since 1999, but achieved all of those marks this year. Berry took over a program, which finished with a 3-13-2 record the year before he began, and after two respectable seasons, has guided the team to a 19-14-3 mark over the past two seasons. He is also the Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach for the Beacons and becomes the first coach in Little East Conference history to win the top coaching honor in two different sports, having been named the best lax coach three times, including this past spring to give him the award in both sports in the same calendar year. Despite his success, such subjective accolades don’t seem to interest Coach Berry nearly as much as winning does or as much as helping to support and develop strong well rounded student-athletes. He now hopes to take some time to reflect and unwind before jumping into the lacrosse season with the same vigor and savvy with which he approached Beacon men’s soccer.