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.