As the St. Mary’s men’s soccer team takes its first kicks into the Fall season, the series of wins and losses both home and away foreshadow an intense year for the Seahawks.
This year’s team, with the loss of 10 experienced juniors and seniors from last season, is composed mostly of first-year and sophomore athletes. The varsity squad is young compared to those of past seasons, making it difficult for the players to get the ball rolling against more experienced opponents. Coached by Herb Gainey, entering his eighth season with the Seahawks, the players are still working through the problem of inexperience. “[It has been] frustrating,” Gainey commented. “The little mistakes are biting us now.”
Starting off the season with a one-point shutout defeat against Johns Hopkins University, the Seahawks suffered another loss the following weekend against Richard Stockton College, 4-0. The following day, Capital University’s Crusaders delivered another shut-out against St. Mary’s, bringing the tally to 0-3 for the season. Said Kevin Seeger, a junior and the team’s defensive captain, “[they’ve been] tough losses, and tough games.”
Despite the difficult start to the season, the athletes are still confident in their team’s potential, working out the recurring flaws of gameplay. “We need to work on moving off the ball,” commented Seeger, “transitioning from offense to defense more quickly.”
Some of these considerations aided the team two weekends ago when forwards Chris Quanima and Benard Agyingi scored two goals against Randolph-Macon College, taking the win on September 12th with a 2-0 shutout. The Seahawks returned the following afternoon to take a 4-0 victory against Bridgewater College, as sophomore forward Ted Scharfenberg scored his first two points of the season in a 1:28-minute period. “I felt more confident in my abilities because I got my first goal,” said Scharfenberg. “It can only go up from here.”
However, with the one-goal loss last Wednesday to Mary-Washington College, the team holds an overall 2-4 record for the season, and the first of eight scheduled matches for the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). With a CAC standing of 0-1, the next game is crucial to the placement of the team in the conference.
Despite the stressed situation of the team’s standing and experience, the players are still holding together, and learning to function as a coherent unit for the games to come. “The kids are working hard,” said Gainey, believing his experience with the team to be very rewarding. “They want to learn what it is we’re trying to teach them to do. If there is a respect between the players and the staff, you can always build from that.”
The next conference game is against Wesley College on September 19th, followed by a match against Gallaudet on the 21st.