Men’s Soccer Coach Herb Gainey referred to his squad as “one of the most individually talented teams I’ve coached at St. Mary’s in the last five years.”
The team kicked off the season with a tour through Italy in August, during which the Seahawks posted a record of 2-1 and outscored their opponents 8-5. Aside from the playing experience the team gained while training in Italy, Coach Gainey believes his squad benefited most from the team unity that they developed abroad. “[The trip] allowed the team to bond. Work began in Italy, but once we got back, I had more players pass the fitness test than any other year. The boys get along well and respect each other.”
The Men’s Soccer team’s first three games of 2010 were not as successful as the Italian tour. After losing the season opener against Neumann College 5-0, the Seahawks traveled to Salisbury to compete in the Elmer Lord Classic. In a pair of hard fought matches the team created many opportunities around the net but failed to convert, forcing the Hawks home with two 2-0 losses.
Eager to recover from their 0-3 start, the Seahawks returned home for their season opener, and tied Greensboro College 1-1 in a hard-fought match. After a controversial goal by Greensboro late in the first half, the Hawks found themselves trailing for the fourth consecutive game. Behind intense defensive pressure and the right-footed goal scored by junior transfer Mark Jaskolski, the team reversed a three-game skid.
The following day, the overcast, rainy weather failed to slow down the Seahawks. Continuing the pressure and intensity from the previous match, junior Brian Payne scored his first goal of the season for the Hawks in the 25th minute. Just 28 seconds into the second half, Methodist University equalized. At the 75th minute, Methodist fouled St. Mary’s in the penalty area. Payne stepped up, twelve yards from the goal, and buried his penalty shot in the back of the net. Payne’s second goal of the year lifted St. Mary’s past Methodist University and to the first win of the season.
After only two games in two days, the Seahawks transformed their record from 0-3 to a 1-3-1 standing. The catalyst behind the early season turn-around was the five days of hard training the team had between the Elmer Lord Classic and their game against Greensboro. In that week the team worked heavily on its application of defensive pressure, a factor that proved integral to their success against Greensboro and Methodist. Jaskolski’s presence proved to be a huge factor in the Seahawk’s heightened intensity during training. Jaskolski transferred this year from Loyola University, a talented Division I program. Coach Gainey believes, “[Jaskolski] is a huge factor. He’s a hard worker, technically skilled, reads the game well, and brings a level of intensity the team hasn’t had in a while.”
After besting the undefeated Salisbury University team in overtime on Sat., the Seahawks look to continue the heightened defensive pressure and intensity as they open conference play against the University of Mary-Washington on Sept. 22.