Christopher Boulay / Asst. Sports Editor
CCSU men’s soccer has begun their spring season, and with the recent success of the team, the Blue Devils are expanding their fan base as well as instilling a traditional “club football” atmosphere.
According to Head Coach Shaun Green, the match against the Western Massachusetts Pioneers was as much of a marketing event as it was to keep the players fresh and prepared for the fall season.
“Fall is our traditional season, but the NCAA allows us to have five competitions in the spring season,” Green said. “[During the Western Massachusetts game] we had as good of a turnout as in the fall. It is a great experiment.”
Coach Green has used Facebook, as well as his CCSU soccer Web site, www.soccerccsu.com to promote the spring season, and continue to build a fan base for the team, who only are two years removed from the Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA Soccer Tournament.
According to Green, he believes that between him and the players that are on Facebook, they have about 6,000 friends on Facebook, and hopes that if they can get around 10 percent of that on a regular basis, they would have a very solid start.
The match against the Pioneers is being broadcast on CPTV to further help CCSU’s quest to gain more soccer fans.
“This is an opportunity to bring back alumni and former players,” Green said. “We are trying to create a soccer culture here. In college, usually students just watch the game and go home.”
A big way that the team tries to build a culture around the team is to have post-game celebrations at Chili’s on Hartford Road, where the team goes after every home match.
“We like to create a social event afterward.” Green said.
CCSU has been ranked 14 times in three different polls in the past three seasons. These polls are NSCAA, Soccer America and College Soccer News.
Many former players attended the Western Massachusetts match, including former captain and Center Back, Gareth Wilkinson. Wilkinson, the native of Belfast, Northern Ireland who played from 1999 to 2003, now lives in Connecticut, is quite excited to be present at the match and post-game festivities.
“It is good to be back, but it is strange to be back and not recognize anyone anymore. This is the first time since I have left that something like this has happened. There was quite a few people [at the match,]” Wilkinson said. “It seems like it was last year [when I played].”
“I am still pissed that I wasn’t on that team,” Wilkinson said with a smile, regarding the team that reached the Sweet Sixteen two years ago.
The CCSU men’s soccer spring season continues until May 3. The fall season will begin on September 4 away against Vermont.