By Christopher Boulay
Two years removed from their best finish in school history, this season’s CCSU Blue Devils men’s soccer team looks to make another run to the NCAA Tournament with a team that looks solid from top to bottom.
In 2007, CCSU made it all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament. That squad had Yan Klukowski and David Tyrie, the two captains who graduated in May.
But with co-captains Eddie Floyd and Robert Cavener, along with striker Rafael Guimaraes, goalkeeper Paul Armstrong, midfielder Connor Smith and newcomers Taylor Morgan, a forward and member of the English Schoolboy National Team, and Xavier Forsberg, former captain of the Australian Schoolboy National Team, this year’s squad may be as dangerous as ever.
Coach Shaun Green, in his 25th year at the helm of the Blue Devils, is not only excited about the play of the veterans this year, but believes the freshman class will have an immediate impact.
“The freshman class will be huge. They will play a great part. Forsberg, Morgan and [Jessie] Menzies will play a major part in the team.”
Another problem that opposing teams will have to deal with is the cohesion and sheer talent of the midfield and forward positions.
“Offensively we have more options,” Green said. Opponents will have to deal with Taylor’s pace and the midfield is playing well, especially Eddie [Floyd] and Mersad [Sahanic].”
Regarding starting Armstrong, Green said simply, “He will do great.”
The team is stacked from front to back and they aim to play more offensive, attacking soccer than in previous seasons. “We will have a lot more [scoring] opportunities,” said assistant coach Paul Wright said. “We have the ability to punish teams. There will be a little more fire power than last year.”
The team is also hoping to look for a more tactically sound style than in past seasons, something that has come through in the matches in the spring and their play in the preseason.
“We need to work more tactically as a group and appreciate each others’ strengths and weaknesses,” Green said. “We will continue to work with the group. We have a good level of performance from the back.”
The NEC Soccer rankings released this summer penned in the Blue Devils as sixth place finishers in the conference. Coach Green does not put much stock into the rankings and feels that the squad will surpass the prediction.
“I don’t think it’s reflective,” Green said. “ I don’t put much into what other coaches think about us. In 2007 we were picked sixth and we made the Sweet 16. It matters what we think about us.”
Only one player will be missing from the spring squad. Christopher Brown, a forward from the Isle of Man, has left the program to return to the United Kingdom after four major surgeries effectively ended his playing career.
Despite the loss, Coach Green is positive that the new additions will complement the returning players.
“We have a great group of kids. I am looking forward to the season,” he said.
CCSU opens their regular season at home on Saturday, September 12 at home against Holy Cross at 4 p.m.