Men’s Soccer finishes wild season
By Craig Epstein | Published Nov. 28, 2017
In a season where they were predicted to finish seventh in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Kean University Men’s Soccer team defied the expectations.
With a new head coach in Peter-John Falloon at the helm, the Cougars finished their season with a 10-7-1 record overall (5-4 NJAC). The culmination of their regular season came in the final game when they defeated Ramapo College by a final score of 1-0 and locked up the four seed in the NJAC tournament.
“It was supposed to be a ‘heavy rebuilding year’ after we lost a dozen or so seniors who helped mold the program into the successful one it has become,” said junior goalkeeper Derek Phells. “The preseason polls had us tabbed at coming in seventh place in the regular season and that helped motivate us all into proving the conference wrong.”
Kean’s wild season came to a controversial close on Saturday, Oct. 28 when they lost to Stockton University by a final score of 2-1. The controversy came when Stockton backfielder Ervin Gjeli scored what would be the game-winning goal just after Phells was down in the box after being hit in the head. As heartbreaking as the loss was for the Cougars, there is no doubt that they will be hungry to prove themselves once again next year.
Going 4-5-1 in the month of September, Kean had its work cut out for them in order to get where they wanted to be. Losing their final two games that month to rivals Montclair State University and Rowan University by a combined score of 13-4, things looked pretty bleak for Falloon’s squad. But, the Cougars knew there was still a long way to go and plenty of opportunities to get back into the swing of things.
“As the season progressed we began to click more on the field and started performing to our best and we ended the regular season in the top half of the conference with a home playoff game,” said Phells. “This was all because of the hard work each and every one of my teammates, from freshman to senior, put in on the training ground and it showed on the field.”
Through grit and determination, Kean was able to go an impressive 6-1 the rest of the way and finish their regular season on a strong note. Posting key wins over RutgersCamden and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), the Cougars proved that they were not going to let their sluggish start prevent them from achieving success later on down the line.
“The team had a very slow start to the season, losing the first four games in the conference,” said freshman forward Vinceroy Nelson. “However, we were able to build our chemistry and finally start playing as a team which enabled us to turn our season around.”
Recently being named the NJAC Rookie of the Year, Nelson had a good idea of what the season had in store for him.
“Starting a new season with a new coach would always be somewhat difficult but it’s all about adapting.”