After 2016’s disappointing end to the season with two shutout losses, the Geneseo men’s soccer team hopes to start off their 2017 season on a much stronger note. During the Herb Lauffer Memorial Soccer Tournament in Erie, Pa., the men had a 2-1 victory over Baldwin Wallace College and a 1-0 loss in double overtime to Penn State.
Points in the tournament came from goals by senior defenseman Kevin McGrath and sophomore forward Bryan Wager, with assists from junior midfielder Gavin Gleasman and senior midfielder Reidis Lata.
“The talent is here, but the conference is very competitive, so limiting errors mentally is very important,” head coach Dominic Oliveri said.
Oliveri plans to use his open and honest approach to coaching to help the team reach the conference championship, in addition to nurturing the talent the team already possesses.
This year’s team includes seven new freshmen. Of those seven, two players in particular—freshman midfielder Marco LaRocca and freshman defenseman Jack Maher—will likely receive a good amount of playing time.
“For their age, they are very poised with the ball and make good decisions,” Oliveri said.
These two skills are important for any soccer player—to possess them as freshmen will put them at an advantage.
The team’s mental strength will also help them overcome the disappointments from the 2016 season, according to Oliveri. Oliveri stressed how important it is to get off to the right start in each game, explaining that the mindset before each game is important.
Although the men welcome a strong freshman class, success requires more than just individual skills. Team bonding outside of games and practice, too, play a significant role in ensuring conference victories.
Due to its significance, Oliveri leaves team bonding to the captains: McGrath, senior defenseman Nick Keneally and junior defenseman Greg Baumstein. The bonding that occurs off the field will surely have a positive impact on the cohesiveness of the team during games.
Coming out of 2016 with a record of 9-7-2, the Knights intend to start this season off strong—an improvement for 2017 could mean a coveted spot in the conference championships.
The team will take on Morrisville State on Friday Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. for their first home game. Having the home field advantage could be the push that the men need to win again.
While each year brings new ups and downs, Oliveri said that he believes in his player’s hard work and the talent—both of which will help them to reach their ultimate goal of becoming SUNYAC champions.u