Men’s Soccer Fall in Sweet Sixteen
By Will Murphy ’23
The Providence College Men’s Soccer team capped off another successful season with their second trip to the Sweet Sixteen in the past three years.
The Friars began their run in the tournament against their regional rival Marist College at their home field, Chapey Field, on Thursday, Nov. 18. The Friars controlled the game from the start, able to muster more than double of Marist’s shot attempts. In the 40th minute, midfielder Christopher Roman ’22 pushed the Friars ahead with a goal that was assisted by Armaan Wilson ’24 and Gil Santos ’22.
In the 67th minute, the Friars were afforded some breathing room after Wilson was able to find the back of the net. Gevork Diarbian ’24 was credited with the assist that helped expand the lead to 2-0.
From there the Friars were able to maintain their lead the rest of the way, pushing their NCAA Tournament record at home to 7-0.
That win moved the team on to the second round where they would face last year’s reigning NCAA Tournament Champion, Marshall University, which had been awarded the No. 14 seed in the tournament by the selection committee. That game was played at Hoops Family Field, in Huntington, WV, the home field of the Marshall University Thundering Herd.
It was a rather evenly matched game, with each team creating opportunities for four shots on goal, with neither team being able to find much separation.
Marshall’s best scoring opportunity in the first half came when Alexander Adjetey broke free and only had the Friar’s goalkeeper, Lukas Burns ’24, to beat, but Adjetey was unable to capitalize, sailing his shot harmlessly over the goal.
The Friar’s best chance in the first half came from a corner in the 18th minute after a deflection led to a loose ball landing at the feet of Miguel Candela ’22, who fired a shot from the top of the box that was saved by Marshall’s keeper, Oliver Semmle.
After a tightly contested first half, the teams headed into halftime in a deadlock at zero. Marshall came out of the break hot, and in the 56th minute, they were able to find separation from the Friars. The goal came on a cross from Milo Yossef after a counterattack, which was finished by Adjetey.
It appeared as though the Friars were able to pull themselves level in the 74th minute when Brendan McSorley ’24 was able to knock in a deflection, but the goal was waved off as McSorley was flagged for offsides.
Momentum then began to swing in the direction of the Friars, as they were able to earn four corner kicks in eight minutes after that.
Finally, in the 85th minute, the Friars were able to break through and level the game at 1-1 on a goal from Candela.
Candela received a pass from Santos at the top of the box and was able to perfectly place his shot inside the right post. That would be the last scoring opportunity in regulation, and the two squads entered overtime even 1-1.
The first overtime period came and went quietly without many scoring opportunities. Just three minutes into the second overtime period the Friars were able to break free and score the game-winning golden goal. The goal was scored on a diving header from Davis Smith ’22 off a beautiful feed from McSorley. This goal pushed the Friars through to their second Sweet Sixteen in the past three years, where they would face their Big East rival, the third-seeded Georgetown University.
The Friars played Georgetown University Sunday, Nov. 28, at Georgetown’s home field in Washington, D.C. It was the third meeting of the season for Providence and Georgetown, with the Friars winning 3-0 in the first meeting, but dropping the second meeting 2-1 in overtime of the Big East championship.
Both teams were held without a shot for the first 32 minutes of action until the 33rd minute when McSorley fired a shot wide left of the net. Shortly after that in the 36th minute, the Hoyas pulled ahead when Dante Polvara collected a loose ball and rifled it into the back of the net. Georgetown’s advantage would remain at one through halftime and into the beginning of the second half.
In the 53rd minute Georgetown was able to get some breathing room thanks to a goal from Marlon Tabora off of a cross from Stefan Stojanovich. Tabora added two more goals in the 58th and 64th minutes respectively, to expand Georgetown’s lead to four and achieve a hat trick.
The Friars avoided the shutout thanks to a goal in the 88th minute scored by McSorley. The goal was assisted by Candela and Diarbian. The game finished with a 4-1 score, putting an end to the Friar’s successful postseason campaign that saw them notch an impressive upset win over last year’s defending National Champion, Marshall University.
Men’s Soccer Excitement for Things to Come
Interview With Big East Offensive Player of the Week Davis Smith
Justin Bishop ’24
The Providence College Men’s Soccer team has been competing at a high level all season, which has earned them the No. 24 team ranking in the entire nation. Moving to 6-1-1 overall and 2-0-0 against teams in the Big East conference after beating Xavier 3-2 on Saturday, the team is looking forward to the next half of the season.
To recap how the team got here, they started the season with a 3-0 upset win at Fordham University, at the time ranked no. 23. Two goals from midfielder Luis Garcia ’23, one from graduate student Davis Smith ‘21, and two saves from goalkeeper Lukas Burns ’24 were the keys to the victory. One of Garcia’s goals was a rocket of a corner kick that the Rams goalkeeper could not handle and deflected off him.
The following match against St. Peter’s was no match at all because the Friars took care of the Peacocks with a dominating 6-2 win for the home opener.
Six different Friars scored and Smith ‘21, Kevin Vang ’22, along with Gevork Diarbian ’24 each had one goal and one assist in the routing of St. Peter’s. The combination of the first two games for Smith earned him the honor of being named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week.
After starting out the season with two straight wins, the team traveled to Durham, New Hampshire to take on the then-ranked no. 14 University of New Hampshire.
The Friars fell to the Wildcats 2-1 where Paulo Lima ’22 cut the lead in half late in the 86th minute on a penalty kick. The team showed grit and never gave up even when they were down two with less than 15 minutes to play.
The team then went on to tie the following game against cross-state rival, the University of Rhode Island, 1-1 with a goal from Diarbian.
Rough play from both PC and URI, as one would almost expect in a match featuring these two rivals, allowed for the game to get out of the Friars’ control.
Smith received two yellow cards which kicked him out of the game and prevented him from playing the next game as well. There were 10 yellow cards given out throughout the match, and URI was at fault for 18 fouls in the game compared to PC’s 19.
That, however, was not the story of this game. The real story was the 12 saves from PC’s sophomore goalkeeper, Burns.
Burns stood on his head and made saves that even a veteran senior goalkeeper would have a tough time making. The sophomore’s performance in the previous two games, holding the No. 14 ranked team to only two goals and making 12 saves on 13 shots against a cross-state rival, earned him the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week.
The team has won the past four games since the tie at URI thanks to two players who have raised their game to the next level. These two players are the aforementioned graduate student out of Amherst, MA, Davis Smith, and Brendan McSorley ’24 out of Randolph, NJ.
Both Smith and McSorley are huge offensive components of the team.
McSorley leads the team in goals and points, and Smith leads the team with four assists and is second in goals and points. However, Smith holds all these statistics while playing one fewer game than McSorley, which earned him the title of Big East Offensive Player of the Week this past week for a second time this season.
I was able to sit down with the now two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Week on Thursday to get an inside look on how well the team has felt so far and to get some insight into how they are preparing for the rest of the season.
Davis Smith ‘21 transferred from the University of Massachusetts Amherst two years ago to PC. When asked about the biggest change when arriving in the Big East from the Atlantic 10, Smith said, “The pace of play is definitely faster and the quality of the players around me are [sic] a lot better than when I was at UMass.”
Smith ‘22 mentioned that he struggled to adapt to how fast the game had become after playing in the Atlantic 10. He said that he used the COVID-19-shortened season to train with his brother down in Texas and grinded every day, trying to make himself better.
The training seems to have paid off with the way he affects and produces in every game in which he plays. Davis said that it is nice to have recognition, referring to being ranked no. 24 in the country and his personal accolades. However, that is not the goal of this season, he says.
“The goal of this season (right now) is to win the Big East regular season and the Big East tournament,” says Smith. “We have just as good a team, if not better than the 2019 team and I think we can really go far.”
The 2019 team, at the end of the season, was ranked no. 14 in the nation and went to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament before a heartbreaking one-goal loss to no. 2-ranked Clemson.
Smith said the team only looks to the upcoming game and not down the road, but he revealed excitement for the Georgetown game at home on Oct. 13. Not only is it a matchup of the top two teams in the conference, but Georgetown is ranked no. 1 in the nation as of Sept. 26.
Smith also praised the play of his goalkeeper Lukas Burns, saying that Burns’ Goalkeeper of the Week award was well deserved and that Smith knows his teammate will keep playing at a high level.
He also commented on how well Brendan McSorley has been playing and hopes they can keep the momentum going as they only play Big East teams for the rest of the season. “Every game in the Big East is a grind and there is no reason why we can’t beat any team in the country,” Smith says.
The Friars resume playing at Marquette University in Milwaukee on Friday, Oct. 2.