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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Men’s soccer falls to familiar foes in LEC Championship

Olivia Reid
A men’s soccer player streches before a home game. Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

No, this is not déjà vu. UMass Boston Men’s Soccer faced off against Western Connecticut State University in the Little East Conference Championship. Again. The Beacons took on the Wolves in what has become a newly developed rivalry between the two programs. As they attempted to triumph in the playoffs and secure a spot in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year, this time around, the Beacons’ LEC championship match meant much more. 

Their bloodbath against the Wolves Saturday, Nov. 5 would have cemented their legacy and solidified themselves as a wagon, a massive step forward from 2022 when they took the role of David in a matchup against Golaith. Their 2–1 win over the Wolves earlier this year set the stage for the two teams to hash it out for all the marbles; the Wolves were seeking revenge after their undefeated 2022 campaign was squandered by the Beacons, while UMass Boston sought out for domestication after owning the pack in their previous two bouts. This time, however, the Wolves won the trilogy.

Men’s soccer obtained the first seed in the LEC tournament against Eastern Connecticut State University. If it wasn’t for their win over EastConn, the Beacons may have dropped down to a lower seed in the playoffs, thus potentially causing them to be unable to secure a first round bye. Midfielder Ryan Lima had different plans, however, and the Beacons were able to spearhead the Spearheads with a 4–1 win. Lima was the biggest contributor to the high-powered Beacons offense, who netted a hat trick and pulled the Beacons ahead. As a result, the team was Livin’ La Vida Lima with first place now in their sole possession.

After guaranteeing themselves a spot in the LEC tournament semifinal game, men’s soccer had time to prepare themselves for what was, at the time, their biggest match of the season. Facing off against Rhode Island College at home, UMass Boston fired cannons at the Anchormen to jump out to a 2–0 lead; Rafael Gross scored a gross goal to open the scoring—his first of the season—while Gabe Mereiles scored on a penalty kick with under two minutes to play in the first half. 

The Anchormen recovered from the Beacons’ shots and knotted things up early in the second half. Coincidentally, the Anchormen tied the game with a penalty shot of their own just under 59 minutes into the game. Diego Gisholt nearly extended the lead to 3–1 moments prior with a corner kick that was inches away from sniping the top right corner, but the Anchormen stormed downfield after the goal kick to tie it. Rhode Island thought they had the Beacons’ backs against the wall—that was until they met John Arruda. 

Immediately after the Beacons kicked off from midfield, Arruda streaked down the left side and fired a shot from the corner. He didn’t get much mustard on the ball, but the chopper managed to squeak by Rhode Island’s goaltender, giving no value to Rhode Island’s equalizer as the Beacons were back on top 52 seconds later. From there, UMass Boston played keep-away to ensure the lead stayed, and with five minutes left, the Beacons got some much-needed insurance on one of the nastiest goals this world has ever seen. 

Ian Visnick had a free kick from about 60 yards out near the right sideline and booted a ball to Josh DeAlmeida on a set play. DeAlmeida was streaking toward the net from the left side and got a hold of Visnick’s ball in stride, heading the ball from ten yards out to give the Beacons a 4–2 lead. As DeAlmeida took his shirt off and sprinted toward the Beacons’ sideline to celebrate with his teammates, it was evident the Anchormen abandoned ship as the Beacons ran away with the game, destined to meet their familiar foes in a familiar spot.

The noon-time kickoff soon turned into an all out defensive war, but WestConn struck first blood, and unfortunately, it was the only blow they needed to take down the Beacons. A corner kick by the Wolves seven minutes in gave them a 1–0 lead; it was Kadin Talho who netted the goal—the most important one of his life. It was a tale of two halves for the Beacons, as WestConn constantly pressured them in the defensive zone, outshooting them 10–2 in the first half and 3–0 in shots on net. Marron Acheampong nearly potted the equalizer on a broken play in the box 23 minutes in, but shot left of the seemingly open net. 

The second half bore witness to the Beacons missing multiple chances to level the playing field. Five corner kicks and eight shots on net fell short of the goal line, while the most notable misses came from the cleats of Mereiles—who hit the post on a shot from 20 yards out in minute 48, and grounded a ball wide right of an open net 65 minutes in. 

With time winding down, the Beacons began to grow desperate and frustrated. Logan Erickson Potter kept drilling the ball deep into the offensive zone, generating multiple scoring chances to no avail, as the Wolves cleared the ball time after time. With under a minute left, the Beacons couldn’t hold down their fort much longer, and a shot on net by WestConn kept the ball in UMass Boston’s defensive zone, ending the game and the Beacons’ hopes of winning back-to-back LEC titles.

Men’s soccer’s loss to WestConn may be heartbreaking at the moment, but their talent is ubiquitous both on the field and sideline. They may have lost the battle with the Wolves, but not the war; these two squads conceived a rivalry, and the next 28 years will be a sight to see. Both teams have now gone tit-for-tat, but now the Beacons will come back fearless and in their revenge era. Unlike WestConn, though, it likely won’t take three games to right the ship.

About the Contributors
Nick Collins, Sports Editor
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor