By Kyle Taylor, deputy news editor
The Northeastern University (NU) men’s soccer team was unable to close out their final game of the regular season with a win, losing to Dartmouth College despite a strong performance.
NU head coach Chris Gbandi spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as the assistant coach of the Dartmouth men’s soccer team.
“I know a lot of the guys and stuff like that, but there was no emotion,” Gbandi said. “I know they wanted to beat me as much as I wanted to beat them, so I was just trying to go out there and see if we could take care of business, and obviously we weren’t able to.”
Although the Huskies tied their second highest total of shots the season with 16 in the match, Dartmouth’s quick offense put them in a hole they could not climb out of, leading to a 2-0 loss. The Big Green scored their first goal just 15 minutes into the game on a corner kick that was touched in, and then returned with another in the 30th minute on a shot 18 yards out that found the bottom left corner of the net. NU junior goalkeeper Jonathan Thuresson racked up five saves in the loss, while sophomore forward Khori Bennett led the Huskies with six shots during the game, tying his season high.
“The takeaways were a little bit of what we dealt with all year,” Gbandi said. “It’s just finding a way to either create some chances and get a goal so we can play from in front more than what we did this season. When we gave up goals, for whatever reason, we couldn’t find a way to fight back and tie the score or get ahead.”
Despite the strong finish to the season, the Huskies did not qualify for the Colonial Athletics Association (CAA) tournament for the second year in a row.
“When we got to Charleston [on Saturday] we were 4-1 at the time, in terms of our last five games, so we had an opportunity to go 5-1 which would have been a very good record,” Gbandi said. “But we just couldn’t find a way.”
Gbandi said that he would have liked the team to succeed more, but it’s hard to blame anyone in particular.
“There’s a little bit of disappointment, but then you think ‘Who can you be disappointed at?’ You have to be disappointed in ourselves that we didn’t take care of business,” Gbandi said. “I’m proud of our guys for fighting through the early season, but a little disappointed we weren’t able to push through and find a way to get into the [CAA] tournament.”
The men’s soccer team concluded its season with a 6-9 record and a 3-5 record in the CAA, winning four of their last seven games. This is an improvement from the last year’s overall of 3-12-2.
“I hoped that we could do a little bit more on my end and with the group, but I think the group got together and worked hard and played hard,” Gbandi said. “Hopefully next year will be a different story, but this year, as a coaching staff, we’re a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get more because we believe we have the pieces and the players to be able to win more games.”
The men’s soccer team will lose seniors Khesanio Hall, Marc Greenblatt and Christian McKenna for the 2017 soccer season.
“I would just like to thank the seniors. Anytime you have seniors in a program and they put in all that hard work, you always just want to thank them for all the effort that they put in,” Gbandi said. “I wish Mark, Khesanio and Christian all the best.”
This season, Hall helped lead the offense, and was second on the team in shots on goal. McKenna had two goals and one assist, while Greenblatt started 14 of his 15 games played for NU the Huskies.
For closing remarks on the season, Gbandi said he was proud of the team for “pushing through and working hard.”
“I think that as a coaching staff we can demand so much from the guys and, to be fair, they’ve given us everything they’ve had,” Gbandi said. “Now that they know what we expect from them, I think that next year’s a big year for the program. We don’t want to have three seasons where all of a sudden now we’re under .500, so next year becomes a big season and hopefully we’ll all kind of get together and work hard and make people at Northeastern proud.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics