By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
Coming into the fall season, Providence College Men’s Soccer player Gevork Diarbian ’24 did not know what to expect. Colleges around the country were still attempting to figure out a safe way for fall sports to occur. As a conference with member schools spanning from Rhode Island to Nebraska, the Big East Conference ultimately decided to follow suit with other conferences by moving all fall sports to the spring season.
“The freshman guys, we were all prepared and we couldn’t wait,” Diarbian stated. “I remember we had a couple of practices; they were telling us games are coming up and then we hear ‘practice is canceled’…it was really hard. There were some moments where I was like ‘Are we going to get the chance to play?’”
When play finally resumed in February, Diarbian instantly made a major impact on the field. He scored a goal in each of his first three games, including a double overtime game-winner against Big East foe Villanova University. Across this stretch, the Friars went a perfect 3-0 to start the year with wins over the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut, and Villanova.
Diarbian collected seven points in his first three collegiate games and has helped PC rise in the national rankings. The Friars came in at No. 13 in the United Soccer Coaches College Rankings last week following a draw at home against No. 5 Georgetown University. Since then, PC has dropped their last two matches.
Diarbian’s performance caught the attention of other Big East schools when he was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll on March 1. He was then tabbed the Big East Freshman of the Week the following week, too.
Diarbian’s accolades are representative of his teammate’s success as well. Goalie Rimi Olatunji ’22RS has been honored twice with Big East Goalkeeper of the Week after several impressive shutout performances. Christopher Roman ’22 was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week on Feb. 22 following his three-point showing in PC’s season opener.
It is never easy to please all fans, especially after the performances that Diarbian has put up, but for him, it is the mindset for the future that keeps him going. “For me, always in my mind, I just tell myself to keep going and keep going…the most important thing is us as a team, to stay together and to work as a group to get better.” With this competitive mentality, Diarbian looks primed to continue to reach not only his goals, but the team’s as well.
In high school, Diarbian wore the coveted number 10 jersey. When he arrived on campus over the summer, the number was available, yet, he was not sure which number was going to be on the back of his jersey. Former captain Danny Griffin ’20 had worn number 10 for the previous four years prior. “As a freshman, it’s an amazing feeling. Ever since I was a freshman in high school, I always dreamed of starting and wearing the number 10 for PC.” He had some big shoes to fill, but so far he is doing so very successfully.
Hailing from Cranston, RI, Diarbian is very familiar with New England soccer. He played a number of years for Bayside FC (the state’s premier soccer club), before starting at La Salle Academy, just down the road from PC. Then, he was a part of the New England Revolution Youth Academy prior to enrolling at PC.
His older brother, Azad Diarbian ’22, attends all of the Friars’ home games along with his parents and other family members. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. Without them [my family] I wouldn’t be where I am today…just seeing them watching me play, it’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Diarbian.
Diarbian is one of two local players on the men’s soccer roster from Rhode Island, the other being another Cranston native and fellow Revolution Youth Academy alum Kevin Vang ’22.
“You know, for me, it’s very good to play with Kevin. He’s a great player, a good kid, and I feel I have a good connection with him on the field. For example, he assisted me against URI.” On that play, Vang sent a gorgeous through-ball to a cutting Diarbian in the box. Diarbian then beat the keeper with a shot to the top right corner.
“I love to play with him,” said Diarbian. “He’s great on the ball and very easy to play with because we have known each other for a very long time.”
Diarbian also pointed out just how different of an experience it is to play at the college level compared to the youth academy ranks. “It’s way different,” Diarbian admitted. “When you were there, it felt like a job…you were there every single day training Monday through Friday and then games on the weekend. It was always traveling.”
The Revolution Youth Academy would travel all over, competing against fellow Major League Soccer youth academy teams. “The competition…you’re playing the best kids in the country. It was good for me, though, to be in that environment. I feel like it helped me as well to show what I can do but also what the other academies do.”
It mirrors a similar experience to that of men’s soccer head coach Craig Stewart. Stewart spent a number of years as a youth academy player for big English football clubs in Sunderland AFC, Newcastle United, and Everton FC.
One figure Diarbian looks up to as a role model is PC men’s soccer legend Julian Gressel ’17. Gressel was an All-American at PC in 2016 and led the Friars to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals before they fell to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in double overtime. Gressel currently plays in the MLS with DC United.
Diarbian hopes to one day follow in the footsteps of Gressel and fulfill his own dream of playing in Europe for his favorite football club: FC Barcelona.