Providence College Men’s Soccer is enjoying a strong start to the season, having won their opening two matches against Fordham University and Saint Peter’s University.
The Friars have buried nine goals between the two games thanks to their relentless attacking style of play, creativity, and clinical finishing in the final third.
Their early performances indicate that this squad has the potential to disrupt the assumed hierarchy of the Big East, which ranked the Friars fourth in the preseason poll behind Georgetown University, Seton Hall University, and Creighton University. Both the Hoyas and Pirates are ranked in the nation’s top 10.
In the season opener against 23rd-ranked Fordham, the Friars successfully defended their home turf at Chappy Field.
Midfielder Luis Garcia ’23 brought his shooting boots that evening, bagging a brace that helped propel the Friars to a 3-0 victory. Both of his goals were well taken; for his first, Garcia created space for himself and fired a low left-footed strike to the far right corner of the net, while his second perhaps required a bit of luck as he scored directly from a corner kick, beating the keeper at his near post.
Davis Smith ’21GS opened his scoring account by capitalizing on an ill-advised back-pass that gave the striker a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. PC was also sharp defensively, and their clean-sheet marked the first time the Friars have not conceded a goal in a season opener against a top-25 program.
PC continued their momentum in Sunday’s match against St. Peter’s, defeating the Peacocks in a highly entertaining 6-2 match.
The high score was a product of a fantastic team effort that saw much of the squad receiving solid minutes and six different names on the score sheet.
Although Saint Peter’s opened the game’s scoring, the Friars quickly drew level after Gevork Diarbian ’24 dusted his defender and dumped the ball off in the box where it eventually found Miguel Candela Bravo ’22, a transfer from Franklin Pierce University, who slid it past the keeper.
Soon after, the Friars took the lead when both Adam Riis ’23 and Thomas Tulgar ’25 pressed high up the pitch to dispossess a Peacock center-back, giving Tulgar a one-on-one with the keeper that he finished with composure.
The game’s best highlight came close to halftime when Kevin Vang ’22 produced a moment of magic, dancing through two Saint Peter’s defenders in a Messi-esque fashion and dishing to Tulger, who sent the ball across the face of goal to striker Brendon McSorley ’24, who made the score 3-1.
In the second half, Davis Smith grabbed his second goal of the season by scavenging a loose ball in the box, and Samuel Biven ’24 grabbed his first collegiate goal through a great individual effort, in which he chased a ball down the right flank, attacked his defender, and created a yard of space as moved the ball to the left foot.
From there, Biven placed the ball past the diving keeper into the bottom right corner of the net. A well taken penalty from Vang in the game’s closing moments completed a satisfying afternoon for the Friars.
Although there were some departures from last season’s squad, the Friars retain many players who made significant contributions from their shortened 2020-21 season.
Midfielder Paulo Lima ’22 and center-back Ramzi Qawasmy ’22 were both named to the preseason All-Big East team and will assume roles as senior leaders both on and off the pitch.
Lima was awarded with an All-Big East First Team selection for the 2020-21 season and possesses many of the qualities one would want in a central midfielder: great vision, physicality, and even the ability to contribute to the score sheet, as he led the Friars in scoring during their 2019 campaign.
As indicated by their first two performances, the Friars are full of attacking potential.
Standing at 6’7”, Davis Smith is a proper no. 9 and is a unique threat that defenses will have to face. Sophomores Brendon McSorley and Gevork Diarbian also have a knack for finding the back of the net, with Diarbian leading the Friars in scoring the previous season.
The Cranston product was one of the most talented freshmen in the conference and will look to build on his already impressive resume in Friartown. Do not be surprised if Diarbian achieves All-Big East First Team status.
Likewise, his fellow Cranstonian, Kevin Vang, has the ability to culminate his career at Providence College with All-Big East accolades. The midfielder stands out for his quickness and exceptional vision, which were both fully on display against Saint Peter’s on Sunday afternoon.
Christopher Roman ’22 is another attacking player to keep an eye on this year. The right winger possesses speed, strength, and the technical ability to create chances for his teammates. He has started all matches for the Friars since 2019 and will likely again be a staple of the squad’s starting XI.
In their next two matches, the Friars will be on the road as they travel north on Friday to face another top-25 program in University of New Hampshire, and then square off against in-state rival University of Rhode Island three days later.
They return to Chappy Field on Friday, September 10 to host Loyola University Maryland. Big East play begins the following week, as the Friars will travel to New Jersey with the goal of conquering last year NCAA semi-finalists Seton Hall, a match every Providence College player and fan should have marked on their calendars.
Likewise, while the rest of the Big East cannot be overlooked, save the date for October 13, when the Friars will host Georgetown, who, like Seton Hall, made the NCAA semifinals last season.
The Hoyas also won the 2019 NCAA tournament and have established themselves as one of the top collegiate programs. Results against Seton Hall and/or Georgetown would be massive for momentum and would help the Friars reach their goal of qualifying for the Big East tournament, which only consists of the top four teams in the conference.
However, given the early season success that has revealed this squad’s quality and cohesion, the Friars will be hungry to achieve more illustrious objectives such as winning the Big East and not only qualifying for, but also making a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Their talent combined with hard work and leadership can definitely help this team accomplish these goals.