Tag Archives: ccsu soccer

Column: All Hope is Not Lost for CCSU Men’s Soccer

By Danny Contreras

The 2010 men’s soccer season was an abysmal one for CCSU. The Blue Devils came in dead last in the NEC, acquiring only six points out of a possible 30, and won four out of 17 games. Additionally, the team only won once at home.

Many Blue Devils fans were left wondering what had gone wrong with the team. How do you go from winning a championship three years ago to finishing undefeated the 2009 season and getting eliminated in the playoffs to finishing last in the conference?

The coaching staff remained the same, many players from the 07-08 season were experienced veterans and the team had enough talent to possibly win the championship. So why did the team fail to deliver this season?

Of course, there is no simple answer. Bad slumps happen to all the teams in the world. For example, domestically, the New England Revolution went from one of the most feared teams in the league to a push over team in recent years.

Mentality? Frustration? New players? The fans? Well, it was a combination of all of these. And while not every single element may apply to the CCSU, it will take the resolution of these problems for the Blue Devils to advance again in the NEC.

Although many teams performed better than the Blue Devils, in the majority of games CCSU dominated the opposing team. The Blue Devils looked fitter, smarter and more eager to win. Yet, the team failed to deliver in the moment.

Defenders were playing one style, midfielders and strikers were playing another. While defenders tried long ball tactics, midfielders were playing for possession and strikers were devising counter-attacks.

The team lacked the mentality of being in the team. The solution is simple, at least for the Blue Devils. Choose style over result. Why? When the team has a third of its players playing one tactic and the other two thirds are doing their own tactics, nothing will come to fruition.

Simply decide on one style of game play and the team gets the result. Mentality is, at the moment, the most important acquisition for the Blue Devils and its recuperation.

Next is frustration from the team and knowing how to manage it. Yes, it sucks to lose, however, the team should not let frustration dictate the game and the result. Every game was in CCSU’s hand and the athletes caused themselves to lose.

Yes, bad refereeing decisions happen all the time, but knowing to cope with those decisions is key to defeating opponents. Nonetheless, what needs to be understood more by the team is the fact that going down 1-0 in the first 15 minutes of the game is not a call for oblivion. The team must accept that it will continue to make errors and instead of kicking themselves for it, they should try to amend it.

After the first two issues have been handled CCSU can look at new players. Outlined in last season’s performance was the lack of a winger. According to Coach Shaun Green, they’re in the process getting wingers to add depth to the squad.

Nevertheless, the aforementioned issues must be addressed before any new players come in. A team that has this type of turmoil cannot create chemistry with new players.

Now we look at the twelfth man, which seems to be absent for the Blue Devils. Attendance at the games was usually low. This problem seems to be getting addressed as the new field gets constructed, however, the team still needs people to go to the games.

The fans can be a deciding factor in games. They affect psyche more than a skilled player does – that’s why the fans are so important. In order to fix this, the team needs more exposure. The team needs to find a way to reach to the Blue Devils fans to come to the game.

Whether it is Twitter, Facebook or Youtube, the team needs to connect with the fans one way or the other. Once the team feels the pressure that comes with having people rooting for them, then results will also come the way of the team.

There is still more than eight months until the new season begins and surely the team is beginning a phase of rebuilding with former captain Robert Cavener leaving and other seniors at the end of their CCSU careers.

This is CCSU’s chance to explore new frontiers in football, mainly the winning mentality that is formed from the collective and not the individual. CCSU has the talent and the capacity to win the NEC tournament next fall and the school and team, as a collective, must help it get back there.

Without Wings Men’s Soccer Can’t Soar

By Danny Contreras

In soccer there are eleven positions essential to a team. They are divided in three areas: defense, midfield and forwards.

The defense keeps the game from slipping away; without a great defense, no team would be a team. The forwards score the goals.

Then there are the midfielders. The ones that create the set pieces that connect plays from the back all the way to the front, feeding the hungry strikers balls to win the game.

A midfielder plays in two ways: a center midfielder, a tactician, has good peripheral vision and is able to make through balls throughout the game. A center midfielder must have a lot of stamina and should be an efficient defender and a sufficient striker.

Or a winger, a fast paced, strong dribbler who can cut through the opposing defense super effectively in either flank, and feed the ball for strikers who are waiting in the box to wound the opponent.

The CCSU Men’s soccer team lacks the latter form of a midfielder, and this is why the performances they have shown the past five games does not serve justice to what is an otherwise great, formidable team.

Coach Green employs an offensive tactic against opponents; usually a variation of the generic 4-3-3 (4 defenders, 3 midfielders, 3 strikers). This form is known for its demanding, yet fluid, style of gameplay where midfielders are in constant motion, feeding balls through center, and the full backs making run down the flanks to overwhelm the opposing defense.

While the style has proven effective for CCSU in some games, there’s one flaw in the squad that does not allow for improvement; the lack of wingers. Coach Green said that not having wingers is an issue that they have to deal with for the rest of the season and to do so the team will employ a diamond formation in the midfield in order to make the most out of the players.

The function is similar to the traditional 4-3-3 but all the plays must be done through the midfield because that’s where the team is strongest. The flaw in this technique is that teams can exploit the fact that there are no attacks in the wings and are able to build up plays from their own wings down the field.

Connor Smith and Jesse Menzies showcased that we can still attack on the wings. Smith was able to break into the right wing from the midfield about two times every five minutes. Menzies on the other hand had the dribbling skills necessary to confuse the defenders in the left wing but lacks speed.

While we cannot force them to play on the wings we can see that the wings can be easily taken over with the style of play CCSU employs in the game.

A possibility is employing a style similar to that of the Premiership teams. Some use a 4-4-2. In it the wings are more used but the way it is set up, they are not forced, such as Manchester United and Liverpool F.C.

Manchester United employs a more traditional 4-4-2. Extremely straightforward in their game, on the other hand, Liverpool employs a style that can be adapted by CCSU.

A variation of the 4-4-2, this one can be broken up as 4-2-3-1. Obviously there are four defenders, but in between the wingers, there are two center midfielders whose sole job is to open up the opposing midfield by passing the ball out wide. The wingers receive the ball, bring it down more, and then pass it to either Raul Meireles who would be waiting somewhere about 10 yards from goal, or to Fernando Torres who is deeper down the box. This way the opposing teams do not take advantage of the wings.

If CCSU employed a tactic similar to that of those two teams we can improve the situation. I am not saying that we cannot win with our current formation: I have been proven wrong with our past wins — but it would be a good thing to experiment in the pitch and see how CCSU can use the skills of their players.

Men’s Soccer Draws Bryant 0-0

By Kenny Barto

The CCSU men’s soccer team (3-7-2, 0-3-2 NEC) has now gone five games and an accumulated 390 minutes without scoring a goal after Sunday afternoon’s 0-0 draw against Bryant (4-6-2, 2-2-2 NEC).

“We’re trying to look for the positives in what we’re doing right now,” said head coach Shaun Green. “We’ve gone two games, with two overtimes in each, that’s 220 minutes without scoring a goal, so that’s a positive.”

The last time CCSU put anything past the opposing goalkeeper was Sept. 25 when Terrell Whitting scored the game winning goal in the second overtime against Fordham.

“We knew coming into the season that offense would be our problem,” said Green. “But I think if we were to add two goal scorers to this team, we could compete with anybody.”

Bryant got off to a fast start, challenging CCSU and drawing a quick free kick just outside of the box. The free kick found a Bryant forward, and was put into the net, but linesman Boris Medvedeu put his flag up which indicated Bryant was off-side and the goal was disallowed.

The Blue Devils only managed two shots on goal, while the Bulldogs challenged goalkeeper Anthony Occhialini three times. Sunday’s match was the second shutout in a row for Occhialini, who has five combined saves in the two matches.

“Anthony has been playing great,” said Green. “With him and the defense on the field these past two games, there have been very few mistakes.”

The Blue Devils almost lost a key part to their defense, after midfielder Robert Cavener broke his nose early in the game when he and a Bryant player went for a header. Cavener was in obvious discomfort, but only missed about five minutes before he returned to the pitch.

“Cav[ener] is a tough kid,” Green said. “He’s got a broken nose, but he played almost the entire game like that, and it showed a lot of character and resiliency to do that.”

CCSU’s offense had plenty of chances in the second half, but they struggled to bury any of them. The defense continued to foil Bryant’s scoring chances, including one that beat Occhialini off of a corner kick late in the second half. Connor Smith was waiting on the corner of the goalpost, however, and headed the ball to safety.

In overtime, both defenses seemed to find their groove, and neither offense was able to find the back of the net.

“It was a frustrating game,” said Green. “Every time we got the ball in, they just defended well and then played long ball down the field. It’s hard to get a pattern when they play like that, but that’s their style of play, and it works for them.”

The draw against the Blue Devils has helped improve the Bull Dog’s unbeaten streak to three.

“Hats off to them,” said Green. “They’ve got a good team and played a tough game.”

The Blue Devils return to action on Thursday Oct. 21 against conference foe Fairleigh Dickinson at Willow Brook Park, starting at 7 P.M.

Spring Soccer Kicks Off

By Christopher Boulay

CCSU men’s soccer starts its Spring campaign Wednesday, April 7 against Monroe College, the first of five spring games over the next two weeks of April.

The team finished 6-10-1 in the fall, with a very disappointing finish after a brilliant start. The Blue Devils traveled to Durham, NH and defeated Vermont and New Hampshire in impressive victories. They also defeated Holy Cross, but defensive lapses and unlucky late goals ended the season on the sourest of notes—missing the NEC Tournament.

Coach Shaun Green believes that this year will be different, though the team is still a work in progress.

“This is a two-year project with this team,” Green said. “We are in the first year.”

The team will be led by captain and center midfielder, Robert Cavener, whose eloquent displays in the middle kept the Blue Devils in matches throughout the season. He will be joined by fellow midfielder Connor Smith in the center.

“[Cavener] is the heart and soul of this team,” Green said.

Green hasn’t been thrilled with the preparation for the spring, mainly because of the short schedule and poor weather that has been prevalent as of late.

“We haven’t really had a whole lot of preparation going into these games,” Green said. “We have had conditioning and strength training indoors.”

The defense will be in better shape this season, with Jared Spieker, Blaine Veldhuis and Jesse Menzies all returning to the squad.

I am happy with how Jared Spieker looks. He’s come in really good shape, he’s healthier. He looks the part.” I like the attitude Jesse Menzies has. He’s gonna be a big leader for us – an absolutely great kid.”

The goalkeeping situation will be interesting, as both Anthony Occhialini and James Perkins will try to fill the void of the parting Paul Armstrong.

We’ve got two young keepers, two Connecticut lads,” Green said. “They are going to be splitting time evenly this spring, fighting for that starting role.”

The Blue Devils’ attack will be contentious with a group of players looking to fill the starting roles. Joel Diamand, Eduardo Ortiz and Beamer Freeman are just a few of the names that should be contending for positions this year.

CCSU will have a mix of Division II schools to play against, as well as their one match against a professional side, miming what the club did last spring, in what turned out to be quite the successful campaign.

The team will have three home games, at Arute Field this month, while the team will travel to Yale on April 18, and they will play a charity match against the Western Massachusetts Pioneers on April 18th at 10 am in Burlington, Conn.

Spring Schedule:

  • Wednesday, 4/7 at 7 p.m. versus Monroe College, Arute Field
  • Saturday, 4/10 at 1 p.m. versus Dowling College, Arute Field
  • Friday, 4/16 at 7 p.m. versus Mass Pioneers, Burlington, Conn.
  • Saturday 4/17 at 10 a.m. versus  Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
  • Wednesday, 4/21 at 7 p.m. versus AIC, Arute Field

CCSU Fan Support Starts With Apparel

By Christopher Boulay

Everyone who follows sports and goes to CCSU, knows that we have had problems with support for our own teams in the past. It is nothing new, and something that CCSU fans have come to expect. We don’t do enough to support our teams, and it could be because we are a mid-major school at best.

There is a solution, though it doesn’t come from the fans themselves. Look at any school that has big support from their fans, and you will see that it all starts with apparel. Walking around a campus that really gives their all for their school sports, the support is tangible. There’s not only hoodies, t-shirts and caps with the school name or emblem, there are also jerseys everywhere.

At CCSU? None.

This is a big problem, that could be alleviated if the school decided that each individual sport was important by itself. Yes, we go to CCSU, yes we have all been to the bookstore when school begins and our parents have bought us countless t-shirts and hoodies, and CCSU clothing probably takes up a decent part of our wardrobe, even if we don’t wear it all the time. But to not have jerseys is a huge problem. There may be school spirit in the sense that we all have clothing that tells people where we go to school, but that is seemingly where it ends.

Let’s start with football. We usually get some good crowds, and the crowd for the Albany game was very good. But why does it have to be that the game is on a Saturday and until then, no one knows about it? Where are the James Mallory #2 jerseys? Aubrey Norris #10? Josue Paul #5? This is a common practice for most Division I schools, and it should be commonplace here in New Britain.

Even with basketball, Robby Ptacek, Joe Seymore and Shemik Thompson should all have their jerseys on the backs of fans around campus. It wouldn’t be too bad to have these players go to class and know that they have the support of their peers. It might just give them that little extra boost on the court, especially in a year that has started off slowly and not without injury.

Even with soccer, the men’s and women’s teams could have their own designed scarves for fans. Possibly a blue and white-striped scarf with CCSU or the school’s name spelled out on it. It is very common for soccer teams to have scarves to hold up during matches, and with the increasing attendance for men’s and women’s soccer, why not? Coach Shaun Green has begun creating a very inclusive atmosphere with the fans of the men’s team, so fans should have a better opportunity to show support.

The CCSU Campus Bookstore does have some good ideas, but they are only a start. Currently, they sell football t-shirts designed by Coach Jeff McInerney, which are great, but they also sell t-shirts with the number 88 on them. Too bad there is no one with the number 88 on the roster.

We have had some great successes in Division I over the past few years, and people from all over the country are beginning to realize that we are building some good programs, but without the fans getting the right ammunition to support the teams, we end up looking like more of a glorified high school than anything else.