By Eileen Flynn ’20
All eyes will be on the Providence College Men’s Soccer Team as they begin their 2017 season. Last year, the Friars fell to Creighton, 2-1, in a tight semifinal match on their home turf in the Big East Tournament. The team regrouped and made an exciting run in the NCAA tournament. They defeated No. 1 Maryland in the second round with a fairy-tale comeback. The team was honored with the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year with Craig Stewart as head coach. With an impressive 2016 season under their belt, the Friars are ready to continue their success this year. The hard work the Friars put into the preseason was acknowledged by the Big East. Mac Steeves, RS’18 was named the Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and an All-Big East First Team Selection. Mark Jecewiz, ’18, was also placed on the Preseason All-Big East Team. As a team, the Friars were selected to place first in the Big East for the 2017 season.
After a long summer of preseason workouts and scrimmages, the Friars finally faced their first opponent of the year in North Carolina on Friday, August 25. The No. 4 Tar Heels were just as excited to start their season, and unfortunately out-scored the Friars at the end of two halves.
The Tar Heels struck first after 15 minutes of play; John Nelson’s shot passed Providence keeper Ben Seguljic ’18. The Tar Heels followed with another goal from Cam Lindley in the 33rd minute of play. Brendan Constantine ’19 was able to respond for the Friars and get the first goal of the season. Constantine inspired Joao Serrano ’19’s goal that came six minutes later. Serrano scored on a free kick placed just outside of the box, tying the score. It wasn’t until the 63rd minute that the Tar Heels’ Jelani Pieters distinguished a one goal lead for his team. Pieters made connection with a crossed ball from his teammate Zach Wright. The final goal of the game was granted to the Tar Heels from a penalty kick in the 86th minute, finalizing the score at 4-2.
The Friars played one more game on the road in North Carolina before heading back to Providence. On Aug. 27 the Wake Forest Demon Deacons hosted the Friars in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Holding the No. 2 seed, Wake Forest defeated PC in a final score of 4-1. A quick goal from Wake Forest forward Luis Argudo set the pace for the game. Tony Billeri RS’21 was in net for the Friars and Wake Forest kept the red-shirted freshman busy. After a diving save from Billeri, the Deacons capitalized on the corner kick that followed. In a similar fashion later in the game, Liam Wilson ’20 was able to find the back of the net to put the Friars on the board. On a corner kick from Serrano ’19, Wilson was in the right spot to complete the goal. Although the Friars had several other chances, Wake Forest increased the final score to 4-1.
Despite the two losses, the Friars are expected to have a winning season. In the New England Soccer Journal Division 1 Preseason Poll, the team was listed at the top. On Sept. 4, the Friars will have their first home game, hosting their neighbors, the Bryant Bulldogs. Some familiar faces in the stands at Chapey Field is just what the team needs to claim its first victory of the season.