Fitchburg State men's soccer on the rise

Fitchburg men's soccer team
Fitchburg men’s soccer team

By Carmen Bordonaro

The familiar sounds of whistles blowing, players screaming, and posts ringing echo throughout Elliot field as the FSU Men’s Soccer team begins their quest for MASCAC gold. The air is buzzing; the Falcons are beginning to realize their potential and prepare for a difficult season ahead. The coaching staff, headed by Werner Thissen, has brought in some serious talent from all over the country with this year’s freshman class. Some of them have already claimed vital roles in the early stages of the season.

The Falcons decided to make some major changes to the outlook of the preseason schedule, planning a weeklong stay at a training facility used by the New York Red Bulls in Lake George, New York. During this week-long adventure, the team was able to dedicate all their attention to pure soccer, without having to worry about the distractions usually experienced while training at the University. The days were broken down into training sessions, meetings, meals, and group activities. Though the trip was for the conditioning and sharpening of the team’s skill on the field, there was most certainly some time for fun as well, considering the facility was located very close to the beautiful Lake George. But at the end of the day, the purpose of the trip was to increase the team’s ability to play the game as one cohesive unit and overall become a closer group of players.

Upon returning from the training camp, the Falcons geared up for their opening game of the season against UMASS Boston in the Lasell Kick-Off Classic. When game day finally arrived, the Falcons found themselves in an early 2-to-0 hole, but were able to persevere and come out on top with a three goal comeback to win the game and move on to the finals of the tournament. Let it be noted that this was the first season in the Thissen era that found the Falcons opening the year with a win. Unfortunately the next day was not as hopeful, and the Falcons suffered a 2-to-0 loss in the finals of the Lasell Classic, but brought home second place hardware and the first successful result from a tournament in recent years.

Trudging along, the Falcons were able to cap a thrilling overtime win against Elms College playing a man down for most of the game, as well as a solid win against Becker College to improve their overall record to 3-to-1. Finally the much anticipated rematch with UMASS Boston arrived, and the Falcons once again found themselves in a 3-to-0 hole trying to dig their way up during the course of the game. With a late game surge, the Falcons were able to put two goals up but couldn’t close the gap, and suffered their second loss of the season.

The Falcons visited Worcester Polytechnic Institute for another thrilling non-conference match up that ended in overtime with WPI notching a late goal. Once again the Falcon’s found themselves playing most of the second half as well as overtime a man down and could not muster up the strength to put a goal of their own in the back of the net.

Though the last two games have not be the results the team was looking for, the season up to this point has been a major success and step in the right direction for the soccer program. Competing, and even beating, teams that the Falcons have struggled against in the past is a major improvement for the overall competitiveness of the squad. In talking with some of the players, many of them feel that anything less than a MASCAC playoff berth, as well as an over 500 goal record, would be a failure for this team. Junior Goalie Aidan Hanratty stated, “I honestly think the MASCAC Championship should be the goal for everyone on this team, we are fully capable of achieving it and leaving a stamp on the MASCAC this year.” Also interviewed was freshman Steven Martinez, who stated, “Even though I am one of the new guys on the team, I already feel like we are a close family. And for this family, the MASCAC hardware at the end of the season should be the ultimate goal.” So it seems quite unanimous that for this Falcons this year, MASCAC hardware is the ultimate prize. The Falcons’ next game is scheduled for this Saturday, October 5 at 1 p.m., visiting Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.