By Kyle Taylor, deputy sports editor
Under new head coach Chris Gbandi, the Northeastern University (NU) men’s soccer team won one of its first three games this season as it looks to improve on last year’s record of 3-12-2. The team began by losing to both Temple University and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and winning against Saint Joseph’s University.
Gbandi, previously the associate head coach of Dartmouth College, is thrilled about starting the season at a new school.
“I’m excited about this season,” Gbandi said. “It’s my first year at Northeastern with a great group of players. It’s an unbelievable university, so I’ve really been excited about making sure we can go out there and perform our best. So right now, we’re just super excited to get this season underway.”
In the first game, junior midfielder David Arvidsson scored his first collegiate goal and NU’s first goal of 2016 in the 2-1 loss against UMass Lowell. Senior forward Christian McKenna assisted Arvidsson’s header in the 31st minute before UMass Lowell responded with goals in the 32nd and 69th minute. Junior goalkeeper Jonathan Thuresson made a career-high eight saves during the game.
The team started its four-game road trip with a 1-0 double overtime win against Saint Joe’s. Senior forward Khesanio Hall scored the only goal of the game in the 100th minute off of a pass by freshman midfielder Jack Reynolds. Northeastern totaled nine shots on goal against the Hawks and tied the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) record for earned corners in a game with 16.
The Huskies then traveled to Philadelphia on Sunday, Sept. 4 to play Temple, resulting in a crushing 3-0 loss. Gbandi, however, saw encouraging takeaways from the game.
“As a coach, sometimes you walk off super disappointed, but you look at the tape and you see a lot of positives,” Gbandi said. “Anytime you’re playing a team that could possible be in the NCAA tournament, you can’t make one or two mistakes or they’ll capitalize on it. So we learn from it, and if we are put in that position again, we’ll do better.”
Temple scored two goals in the first half followed by one more in the second half. While they did not score, the Huskies’ three shots on goal are the most Temple has allowed during its four matches this season.
With a 1-2 start to the season, Gbandi likes what he sees from his team.
“I think that our guys have really worked hard and as a coach that’s sometimes all you can really ask for,” Gbandi said. “Ultimately, the record is going to dictate if we’re doing the right thing or not, but I think early on in the season we’re pushing in the right direction.”
The Huskies are scheduled to play away at Fairfield University this Saturday. During the 2015 season, the two teams ended the game in a tie after double overtime. However, Gbandi is confident that his squad can pull out a win.
“Anytime you’re playing away from home it becomes a bit difficult, but I think that we’re gonna get our guys in a good position to play and compete,” Gbandi said. “Fairfield is one of those teams that gets a lot of ties. It’s just trying to push through and finding a way to win the game.”
Following Fairfield, Northeastern will play away at Boston University next Tuesday before returning home for their first CAA game against Drexel University that Saturday.
photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics