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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Championship aspirations fuel strong season for men’s soccer

Jamie Taris
Sophomore midfielder Carter Van Buskirk clashes with a Nichols player in pursuit of a bouncing ball. The Rams had a 1-1 draw with the Bison Oct. 7.

After a tough Commonwealth Coast Conference Championship loss last season, Suffolk University’s men’s soccer has gotten off to a hot start this year, placing second in the conference with a 7-4-2 record.

“Each year our coach installs more tactics and principles that he wants us to keep up with, and I think this year everyone’s been more accepting of their roles and more aggressive in the tactics our coach wants us to have,” said team captain Taj Jensen.

The team was on fire in the latter half of September, going on a five-game win streak that brought them three wins away from matching last year’s win total. This was their longest win streak in over 16 years.

“Our guys have done a good job of saying, ‘We’re playing well, we’ve used the five-game win streak to go in the right direction, but we’re not looking at that as a whole. We’re just trying to take it day by day, whether it be in a film session, in practice, or in a game, just trying to get better in that specific moment,’” said coach Bill Maddock.

This five-game win streak came after tough losses to Emerson College and Framingham State University. Jensen attributes a speech at practice from Maddock to the turnaround they had.

“I think it was a 10-minute conversation at practice the next day [after losing to Framingham State]. Coach let us know how he felt about our performance and that there’s a certain standard that he expects out of us. If we want to accomplish anything this year, things are gonna have to change,” Jensen said.

Van Buskirk holds the jersey of a Nichols defender as he attempts to maneuver the ball. (Jamie Taris)

According to Jensen, going on a winning streak helped turn around the team’s morale after their rough start to the year.

“We’re already a pretty confident group, but I definitely see everyone trying harder in practice and being overall happier. Winning makes everything easier,” Jensen said.

Jensen highlighted the efforts of CCC award-winning freshmen like Francisco Valck and Nathan Harlow for contributing to this team right away throughout their hot start.

“There’s a couple of really big contributors: Francisco Valck, who’s a really dynamic attacking option. He’s transitioned extremely well, which is great, but from day one we could tell he was a great player that would, if given the opportunity, really take hold of it,” said Jensen. “Then also Nathan Harlow, who’s a freshman goalkeeper who’s stepped into a tricky role and made the most of it. It can be stressful some of the moments he was in, but he’s definitely played beyond his years.”

Their win streak would come to an end in a competitive game against a strong Division I Boston College team Oct. 2.

“We played really well there. Despite the loss, our guys were really happy with their performance and as a coaching staff we were extremely happy with their performance of how they battled and competed for the entire game,” Maddock said. “Yes, there’s an L in the loss column, but there’s going to be a lot of positives that we take from that.”

Junior forward Matteo Simonini battles for ball possession with two Nichols defenders in the corner of the pitch. (Jamie Taris)

This was Suffolk’s first time ever playing an NCAA Atlantic Coast Conference team in men’s soccer, and the team is proud about playing competitively against a team from one of the highest-ranked conferences in the country.

“It was a huge opportunity and a huge milestone for our program. We don’t like to lose, we obviously enjoy winning, but there’s a lot of positives we can take from a result like that,” Maddock said.

As Suffolk heads into the playoffs, coach Maddock believes that the playoff experience gained last year can potentially help them win the CCC Championship this year.

“We had a pretty young team, we only graduated four seniors last year and again we have a pretty young team. Any time you play in a hostile environment like the final was last year, it only helps,” said Maddock. “If we’re fortunate enough to continue to win games and we find ourselves in the playoffs, come late October, early November, we’re going to look back on those experiences and say, ‘What can we learn, how was the environment like, and how can we be better prepared for it?’”

As Suffolk continues their playoff push, they’re preparing to play third-place Curry College at home Oct. 14.

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About the Contributors
Joseph Dimino, Staff Writer | he/him
Joe is a junior journalism major from Revere, Massachusetts. When he has free time, he can be found in Suffolk's VGA room or watching Boston sports. He's particularly a fan of the Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox. When he graduates, he hopes to become a sports journalist covering Boston sports.
Follow Joe on X @JoeDiminoSU
Jamie Taris, Managing Editor | he/him
Jamie is a senior broadcast journalism major and public relations minor from Pelham, New Hampshire. He has a deep passion for sports, especially hockey and football, and hopes to make his way into the sports media field after graduation. Outside of the Journal, Jamie is a sports intern at WHDH and is involved with Suffolk's orientation department. When he's not obsessing over the latest sports news, you can usually find Jamie hiking or camping in the White Mountains, or exploring the city with his friends. Follow Jamie on X @JamieTaris

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