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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Men’s soccer players are heading into 2024 in high spirits

A+men%E2%80%99s+soccer+player+kicks+the+ball+away+from+UMass+Dartmouth+during+a+previous+home+game.+Photo+by+Olivia+Reid+%2F+Photography+Editor.
Olivia Reid
A men’s soccer player kicks the ball away from UMass Dartmouth during a previous home game. Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

UMass Boston Men’s Soccer was unable to replicate their championship winning 2022 season, but nothing could make them walk away from the 2023 season empty-handed. The Beacons’ contributions on the field were not overlooked by the Little East Conference, and while they were unable to reach the end goal of securing the coveted LEC trophy, 2023 will not be water under the bridge, but rather a motivator to build off of what was an already memorable season. 

The Beacons were a two-headed beast on the pitch, and even that may be an understatement. Beacons Athletics showed that the team finished the year with a 13–5–2 overall record, more notably a 6–1–1 record in conference play. [1] Much of the reason behind that was the dominating performance by the teams’ offensive masterminds and defensive stronghold—who, in their own right, also became offensive masterminds.

Six members of men’s soccer took home some of the hardware the LEC had to offer in their end-of-season awards ceremony, according to Beacons Athletics. Both the LEC’s offensive and defensive player of the year donned the white and blue. 

Left center back Diego Gisholt made his presence known leading the Beacons’ impenetrable defense, clocking in over 1,700 minutes for the team, exemplifying his stark presence on the field. His .429 shot percentage, alongside his three goals on the year, not to mention his wicked boot from the corner as a corner kick specialist, complemented his offensive prowess and solidified him as a reliable two-way defender. [2]

The LEC’s offensive player of the year was none other than midfielder Ryan Lima. Only a sophomore, Lima has developed into a scoring machine for the Beacons, netting six goals in his first six games. His hat trick against Eastern Connecticut in the final regular season game was a defining moment in his young collegiate career, as it clinched the first seed for the Beacons in the LEC tournament, turning the team into a family of leaping Limas heading into the playoffs. [2]

Both Gisholt and Lima deservingly took home All-LEC first team honors, as did striker Gabe Mereiles, who led the team in goals with 14 and cemented himself as the top scorer of the LEC with 36 points. Similarly to Lima, Mereiles’s scorching boots made way for some hot shots, making a profound mark on the pitch with 13 goals in a stretch of 14 regular season games. [2]

Three other players took home LEC honors for the Beacons, all of whom have their name enshrined in the books as members of the All-LEC second team. John Arruda flaunted his potential as a freshman prodigy, and looks to improve on his already impressive résumé that shows he finished top three in both goals and assists for the Beacons. Defender Marron Acheampong is also a member of the All-LEC second team, carrying the load alongside Gisholt and another All-LEC second team player, Logan Erickson Potter. 

As for Erickson Potter, he, like Gisholt, proved himself to be an offensive threat as a left back. He consistently created opportunities for the Beacons on the offensive front, and became a reputable goal scorer in his own right, even having a stretch of four goals in three games from Sept. 21 to Sept. 30, as pointed out by Beacons Athletics. [3] There may not be an award for best left back duo in Division III, but surely, Gisholt and Erickson Potter would be at the forefront for consideration. 

The team’s decorated coaching staff was also shown some love from the LEC. Head coach Jake Beverlin, alongside assistant coaches Estive Sosa, Paul Erne and Marcelo Cunha—no, not that Marcelo, although there were at least two Marcelo’s in attendance for the teams’ tournament games—were named the LEC’s coaching staff of the year. The award highlighted their undoubtedly impeccable ability to manage games efficiently and draw up a winning game plan day in and day out.

One of the biggest challenges the Beacons face is that they will lose starting goaltender Qasim El-Ashkar for the 2024 season. However, netminder JJ Devine—number one on the field and number one in many fans’ hearts—looks to pick up where he left off from his stellar freshman year, entering 2024 as a senior and a mentor for the team. Devine said: 

“The role is never guaranteed, and I’m going to need to work this off season and really prove it. The capability is and has been there; I just need to bring it out full-time through the work I am going to put in this off-season, like I did freshman year.” 

As pointed out on his player profile on Beacon Athletics, Devine’s 7–3–1 record in 2021 proves he has all the talent and tangibles needed to step into the role of starting goalkeeper, and his 0.73 goals against average as a freshman is nothing short of amazing; he looks to replicate his elite performance as an unstoppable force and show he has the capabilities to play a pivotal role in leading this team back to glory. [4] The Devine one is looking for a divine end to his collegiate career, and his divine power in net may help the team reach the end goal of getting back on top:

“I expect the best out of myself because truthfully it is what I deserve. I, and the team, deserve to win awards and championships after next season and it will be nothing but dissatisfaction if it goes otherwise.” Devine’s winning mindset and track record of stepping into a role as an influential figure and key contributor for the squad will ultimately pay off in the long run, and there’s no question that his teammates feel the same going into next season. 

The 2023 campaign for men’s soccer was nothing less than a spectacular display. There were some bumps in the road, but the team is heading into next year hungry and ready to eat, shedding off the hardships they faced and nobly preparing themselves for what’s to come in Fall 2024. With the experience they possess on the field, having a roster and staff filled with seasoned veterans that have already played in big-time games, they’re already a step ahead of their LEC counterparts and will be well prepared for the challenges on the road ahead. The Beacons’ fearless era began long ago when they stepped into battle against Western Connecticut State University in 2022, but it’s the dawn of a new era, and the tour of 2024 begins now.

 

  1. https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-soccer/schedule
  2. https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2023/11/7/mens-soccer-lands-six-on-all-conference-three-individual-awards.aspx
  3. https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2023/9/30/mens-soccer-battlin-beacs-surge-late-to-salvage-tie.aspx
  4. JJ Devine – 2023 – Men’s Soccer – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

 

 

 

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