By STEVE SILVERTHORNE
The Mary Washington men’s soccer team had their season end a few weeks back when they dropped a 3-0 decision to York College in the semifinals of the Capital Athletic Tournament on Nov. 2. Although the Eagles were upended earlier than expected in the conference tournament, the UMW men’s soccer team still accomplished a lot in their 2011 season.
In his first year as head coach of Mary Washington, Jason Kilby led the Eagles to a 7-7-3 record and a second place finish in the CAC regular season. The Eagles biggest win of the year came over conference rival Salisbury, a team who at one point was ranked inside the national top15 and eventually won both the CAC regular season and the tournament title.
A couple Eagles players earned conference recognition for their great play this past season. Senior midfielder Bram Sims capped off his career by earning first team All-CAC honors, and sophomore defender David Heller was named to the All-CAC second team.
The Eagles are going to lose seven key seniors before next season begins, but the team is still loaded with young talent and will look to build on the success of this past season. The optimism is definitely high for the 2012 season yet to come.
“Even though we lose many key seniors this year, we are still a very young team, and if we work on our communication skills and our positivity on the field we should be well off,” junior midfielder Matt Alter said.
Alter also mentioned how close all the players are off the field with each other, which allows them the ability to build great chemistry on the field.
In his first season at the University of Mary Washington, coach Kilby had some big shoes to fill. After leading North Carolina Wesleyan, one of the top programs in the region the past nine years, Kilby had to adjust to life at a new school.
“Although it took me a little while to adjust to [my] new surroundings, I definitely enjoy being at Mary Washington,” Kilby said.
However, one thing coach Kilby said he did not have to adjust was his style of play. He says the style of play he used this season was very similar to what he used in all of his previous seasons.
Kilby took the reins from Roy Gordon, who retired after 34 seasons as the only head coach in the program’s history, and one of the winningest coaches in all of NCAA history, but there was definitely no disappointment with the new coach.
“The players all love him, and with him we are playing a different style of soccer than past seasons, which fits very well for our team,” Alter said.
Though the Eagles are confident with the unit they have for next year, there is still much work they need to do this offseason if they want to be where they hope to be next fall. The team will rely on senior leaders in Alter, Matt Poole, Omar Ismail and Smith Norton to try push the team while out of season so they continue to work hard both on and off the field.
“If the team continuously plays on their own, and in small set games, and works to get their strength and speed up, then the goal of winning the CAC and advancing deep into the NCAA tournament is definitely a reachable goal,” Kilby said.