By Ethan Schroeder, news staff
The Northeastern University (NU) men’s soccer team is back in action for the 2015 season. With the loss of six veteran players, however, the young team has yet to win, holding a 0-2-1 record.
Last fall, the team overcame a slow start en route to an encouraging postseason showing. Despite falling to a 3-7 record after a challenging non-conference schedule, the Huskies finished their regular season on a strong note. NU emerged from conference play with a 4-3-1 record, good enough for a spot in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament. There, Head Coach Brian Ainscough’s squad was a goal away from a conference finals berth and a chance to compete for a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament spot. The Huskies fell to the University of Delaware in overtime in the semifinals, ending their season with an 8-11-1 record.
The team’s recovery came as a result of established chemistry between its new additions and veteran members. Then-freshman striker Frantzdy Pierrot led the attack and earned the CAA Rookie of the Year award with nine points. Midfielder Brad Fountain, now a sophomore at Florida International University, also provided nine points for the Huskies on his way to a CAA Third Team selection. Senior defender Simon Cox and redshirt senior defender Ambry Moss anchored the defense. The pair earned CAA Second Team honors.
Ainscough set high expectations for the coming year. Following last season’s conclusion, he told The News that he envisioned the team as “a force to be reckoned with in the CAA” this season.
With the graduation of six Huskies this spring, Northeastern will be looking to fill multiple vacancies. Looking to help contribute to the new dynamic are the team’s 11 incoming freshman and one sophomore transfer. The newest recruiting class comes from five countries and various positions.
“From our standpoint, what we have returning, these players nicely fit in with the rest of the group. That’s going to stand well for us during the next few years,” Ainscough told GoNU.com at the unveiling of the class.
For the 2015 season, the Huskies will attempt to build on its glimmer of postseason success last year. The key to this season will be favorable results in road games; Northeastern posted a 4-7-1 record away from Parsons Field in 2014. In contrast to a 4-4 record at home, NU found itself unable to gain momentum on the road. Muscling out close contests away from home this season may just be the spark the team needs to push farther into the postseason.
Ainscough is returning for his 11thseason at the helm, while Associate Head Coach Brendan Burke enters his second season.
After tying both preseason exhibitions, the Huskies opened up their regular season on Aug. 30 at home against the Temple University Owls. Despite striking first early on in the matchup, the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Pierrot scored the first goal of the season for the Huskies at the 19-minute mark. The sophomore striker was able to finish on a cross from freshman midfielder Chris Flores, putting the pressure on the Owls. The assist was Flores’ first collegiate point. NU senior goalkeeper Dylan Faber did his best to preserve the lead, but a defensive miscommunication in the 44th minute allowed Temple freshman forward Jordan Wix-Rauch to tap in an equalizer. The Huskies outshot the Owls 16-10 down the stretch, but even two extra overtime periods were not enough to decide a winner.
Three days later, the team traveled to California to take on the Stanford University Cardinals (SU). The Cardinals, ranked 16th in the NCAA at the time of the game, wasted little time in making their presence known. Stanford’s seven shots in the first half proved to make the difference, as a goal from SU senior midfielder Slater Meehan was the deciding score. Northeastern fought back with a variety of opportunities in the second half, led by four shots from sophomore transfer forward Khesanio Hall, but the visitors could not find the back of the net in a 1-0 loss.
To finish off the week, the Huskies stayed on the West Coast to face the University of California, Berkeley (Cal). The Golden Bears struck early and often against the Huskies, as goals from freshman midfielder Samuel Ebstein in the 17th minute and junior forward Christian Thierjung in the 28thset the pace on the way to a 3-0 victory. Northeastern fought back in the second half, outshooting Cal 7-2, but redshirt senior goalie Alex Mangels had five saves to earn the shutout.
The Huskies have a will return to Parsons Field on Sept. 12 to play their next game against Fairfield University after a six-day break.
Photo courtesy Northeastern Athletics