McDaniel men’s soccer is a program rooted in tradition with a number of recent Centennial Conference and ECAC Tournament appearances. However, one thing has alluded the Green Terror to date: the NCAA Tournament.
After a disappointing 2021 season, there were a number of unknowns heading into 2022. Questions surrounded a young, inexperienced roster. But sitting at 7-2-1 this season, it seems like those questions have been answered.
“We ended up starting in the first game last season just two guys that had ever played a collegiate game,” coach Steve Corrieri said. “We knew it was going to be a rough year in terms of trying to figure out even the smaller details. This year, we have a more settled squad and we know more about our plays.”
More experience has directly contributed to more success on the field, beginning in the attacking department.
Last season, McDaniel struggled to sustain possession and get into the attacking third to create scoring chances. The Green Terror scored just 13 goals in 15 matches, finishing 4-11-1.
Through this season’s first 10 games, McDaniel has already scored 19 goals and is just 21 total shots away from matching last season’s total.
“The big part of it is, we have to look at how our opponent plays defensively to see how we match up against them,” forward AJ Nordone said. “In attack, we all know what our roles are. You have to know your role to play on this team and know how you work off of other people.”
The youth influence has been noticeable with 12 of the 19 goals this season being scored by underclassmen; 11 of those 12 were scored by freshmen. Nordone is one of McDaniel’s impact freshmen, currently sitting second on the team in goals with four, second to Nick Starr (5).
Where there might not have been belief last season, there is this year from the attackers to the midfield and back line.
“That has been one of the biggest parts of our success this year,” midfielder Brandon Morse said. “Our midfield is very confident that if we give the ball to our forwards and get them in on goal, they’ll score. That’s proved us right so far.”
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It’s not just success from the midfield up, but throughout the team. The Green Terror are scoring goals, and not conceding many.
McDaniel has corrected the holes that were prevalent last season, conceding just five goals this season while posting seven clean sheets.
“We’re really putting in the extra work not only to prepare ourselves for games, but also to get to know each other and bond as a team,” defender Matt Bowes said. “The difference from this year and last year is we’re a lot closer overall as a back line.”
McDaniel notched its first Centennial Conference win Saturday, a 1-0 win against Swarthmore, a well-deserved result after two intense battles against two nationally-ranked conference rivals in Franklin & Marshall and Johns Hopkins.
The Green Terror grabbed just one point between the two matches, a scoreless tie against the Diplomats. They fell, 1-0, to the Blue Jays. The results, however, are encouraging for the remainder of the season.
“We played two nationally ranked teams in the space of five days and the attitude after the Hopkins game was really impressive,” Corrieri said. “The boys were disappointed not to get anything out of the game for the effort they put in. Having that mindset is a good indication that they have the belief that’s required for the rest of the games coming forward.”
McDaniel continues its season on Wednesday against Christendom before resuming conference play when it hosts Dickinson on Saturday.