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The Mass Media

Men’s soccer is shooting for the stars after illustrious 2022 campaign

The+UMass+Boston+Mens+Soccer+team+huddles+during+the+final+stretch+of+the+Fall+2022+season.+Photo+courtesy+of+Beacon+Athletics.+
The UMass Boston Men’s Soccer team huddles during the final stretch of the Fall 2022 season. Photo courtesy of Beacon Athletics.

Men’s soccer scored an improbable victory over the formerly undefeated Western Connecticut State Wolves last fall with a 1–0 win in penalty kicks to secure the Little East Conference Championship. Now, with last season in the rear view mirror, the Beacons look to capitalize on their success from Fall 2022 as they kick off their 2023 season with the hopes of defending their ground atop the LEC.

The Beacons finished last season with a gut-wrenching 1–0 defeat to Tufts University. Nonetheless, UMass Boston took a jumbo leap in play last season prior to their loss to the Jumbos, and making the NCAA Division III tournament is something the team should look back on and be proud of. However, it’s how they got there that raises questions on whether they can replicate their storybook run once again.

Men’s soccer began their season last year with a rather slow start. Albeit, their 1–2–1 record through their first four matches wasn’t all that bad; however, they had to play a bit of catch-up to reach their standards. Over the stretch of the following six games that spanned from Sept. 14 to Oct. 1, 2022, they turned their season around. In that span, they won five consecutive games out of six and sank their opponents, all the while putting on a show offensively, pouring it on by outscoring them 14–2. (1) 

They couldn’t keep their five-game winning streak going against Eastern Nazarene College on Oct. 1. Luckily, they didn’t add that match to the loss column. They were able to maintain their defensive prowess and tame the Lions despite their offensive standstill, keeping the score at a 0–0 tie. (1) The Lions got a hold of some of the Beacons’ momentum though, as they lost their next game to Wentworth, 4–1. Afterwards, they ripped off another winning streak, this time coming out on top in three straight, and despite going 0–2–1 in their final three regular season contests, held the number two seed going into the LEC tournament. 

Things got extremely wild for the Beacons during their two LEC tournament matches. Against Southern Maine University in the semi final, rising senior Josh DeAlmeida put the team on his back with two overtime goals, the latter of which was the game winner that propelled UMass Boston to the LEC Championship game. (2) Their superb play and late game heroics would carry over against WestConn, and in the penalty kick shootout with the championship on the line, goalkeeper Qarim El-Ashkar stood tall as a brick wall in net to help the Beacons defeat the big, bad Wolves 4–2 on free kicks.

The Beacons’ miraculous victory over WestConn will be etched into the record books forever. However, a lot of things went right and clicked for the team in 2022, and it may be just as complicated to get back on top this year, too. Much of the looming success lies on the Beacons’ most prolific scorers and reuniting core, and luckily, only a few players from last year’s roster have left the team. Although, the downside is how substantial of a blow this loss of players is to the group. 

Headlining the list of former UMass Boston players is 2022 All-LEC second team midfielder Christian Suvak. Suvak was a key member of the team and fit UMass Boston’s scheme like a glove; he came up huge in last year’s LEC tournament and was rightfully named Most Outstanding Player for the tournament. 

As for returning players, a lot of the pressure lies on the shoulders of the teams’ biggest playmakers and defenders, not to mention El-Ashkar, who will have to duplicate his season from last year if the Beacons want to run it back for their second straight championship. DeAlmeida led the way in points last year with an absurd stat line of 20 points in 20 games, including a team high of nine goals. (4) His senior season will be a fun one to watch, especially if he’s able to get even better than he already is. 

For the rest of this Beacons wagon, the returning core of Nick Braganca, who scored six goals last season as a freshman, as well as former All-LEC players Annilson DePina and Diego Gisholt, are just a few names who will have to fill in the gaps left open by Suvak and company. Statistics show that the Beacons will have to improve their shot-creating abilities, too, as well as clean up a bit defensively. Last season, UMass Boston was outshot by opponents, 282–259. They made up for this with their consistency in hitting the back of the net, though; they ended 2022 with a plus-12 goal differential against opponents at 34–22. (5)

Regardless of their goal scoring, the team has to improve on both sides of the ball. When push comes to shove, the Beacons may begin to tread in muddy waters if they aren’t cautious enough to put together a similar string of games comparable to their performance last year. It’ll be a gruesome challenge to embark on a couple of winning streaks like they did in their previous campaign, let alone take home another LEC trophy. Though, it takes a whole lot of guts to pull off what men’s soccer did last year, and it for sure spilled over into this year, too.

The best case scenario for the Beacons is that their returning group of offensive masterminds can polish the most minute crack in the team’s overall game. On defense, Gisholt can rally the troops in an effort to prevent opponents from getting too many shots off. Overall though, there’s a special team that’s coming into their own on Columbia Point. If they open up 2023 firing with the same grit and intensity as last year, there’s a good chance that the Beacons will be illuminating a path to the LEC Championship once again. 

  1. https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-soccer/schedule/2022
  2. https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2022/11/3/thriller-on-the-harbor-mens-soccer-advances-to-lec-championship-match-after-overtime-win-versus-eastern-connecticut.aspx
  3. https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2022/11/5/back-on-top-mens-soccer-downs-unbeaten-westconn-wins-fourth-lec-championship.aspx
  4. https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-soccer/stats/2022
  5. https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-soccer/stats/2022



About the Contributor
Nick Collins, Sports Editor