Sixteen losses, 12 shutouts, 11 total goals, nine game losing streak, two wins and one tie.
That’s a complete summary of the men’s soccer team at Suffolk University for the 2015 season, which was, from a win-loss standpoint, their worst season ever, according to the Athletic’s department database. The database goes back to 2001 for men’s soccer. The team’s seven wins ties the most wins as of Wednesday night since matching seven games, a 7-10-1 record, in 2011.
Last season was current Men’s Soccer Head Coach James Boden’s first season coaching the program, after being the head varsity coach at Pembroke High School and rejecting Lasell College’s offer just a year before, Boden said in a phone interview with The Suffolk Journal. It was a struggle to leave the field with a win, but their two wins were enough for them to qualify for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) postseason.
“We didn’t have a lot of incoming freshmen or recruits that were players we would now look forward to,” said Boden to The Suffolk Journal on his first season.
“We lacked quite a bit of technical ability and it showed really with the results,” said Boden.
To get through the team’s struggle, Boden found building a culture from the ground up or getting it back to where it once was should be motivation enough to preserve through the tough times. Boden used his experiences in sports performance and fitness to implement summer training, winter training programs, spring sessions fitness plans as another layer to making the players better.
The 2016 season has been different, the team has tripled their win total from last year as they’re currently at a 6-6 stalemate. Boden’s goal of at least a .500 season is in sight. After that, his next objective is to win a tournament game, which hasn’t been done since 2010 against Emerson College, when the team won the GNAC Championship and qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament.
“I think within three to five years we absolutely have the ability to go out and win our conference and go into NCAA and build from there,” said Boden.
He gives that time span because of the thirteen freshmen and eight sophomore on the team, and looks at the youth movement being a huge boon for the team. In Boden’s eyes the team is starting again, but rebuilding at the same time. He also wants to make sure the team is competitive and represents Suffolk every time they take the field.
“We believe that we can go into every game and fight and get a result.” Boden said. “So, the hope is that we get some consistency in order to do so.
What Boden gives credit to the team’s breakout season and most wins since 2012 is the commitment level and communication between players and staff. Along with that, a more consistent training schedule has been implemented in comparison to last year where it was all over the place due to his late summer hiring.
“The consistency is really key for everything,” Boden said. “Everything is more consistent and organized this year.”
A more consistent and organized tactic coaches use to become better is recruiting. It’s all about finding the best players inside and outside of the state, and that’s what coach Boden has been able to do. The process of examining talent is year round, and that is a task Boden takes seriously.
To start the academic year, Boden was in Florida for a high school tournament and also did his due diligence by attending regional tournaments in Mass. and Conn. Long Island, New York is on his radar now due to the academic interest the school receives.
Florida, interestingly enough, was a good recruiting spot for Boden as there was a nice turnout from the southeast region. He credits the northeast as being a desirable location for students to make the trek to due to educational standings. To Boden’s point about Florida, it has worked. A prospective player for the men’s basketball team recently visited the campus from Florida.
“We do try to spread our wings a bit more, as opposed to just local,” said Boden. “We haven’t really touched any other states per se at the moment, but we also get a few international students coming as well.” He added that recruiting locally is important, because
Last year, the recruiting list for Boden was around 120 players and has increased to about 150 this year. He says the team has half a dozen verbal commitments for the upcoming year and deems as promising. Two of the players are local Mass. players. One is in the marines and the other is taking a trip across England for a year. Boden said the recruiting is working despite not many people knowing about Suffolk outside of the area.
He plans on doing a winter combine, which would consist of the new players coming to campus, getting a tour and going through training sessions on the field.