By THOMAS SKEER
As the final whistle blows on a cold November night in Lancaster, Pennsylvania the men’s soccer team’s season comes to devastating end in penalty kicks against Eastern University. Unfortunately for the Eagles, this would not be their last loss of the season as their assistant coach Zach MacDougall would leave the team one month later. Looking forward, the team is hopeful despite the changing coaching staff and optimistic of what the search for a new assistant coach will bring.
The Eagles had a historic season with a 14-1-5 record, multiple All-Conference players, and winning the Capital Athletic Conference for the second time in three years. These accolades would not be possible if the coaches were not so dedicated to the team’s success.
“I think that the coaches played a huge role in our team’s success this year and their attention to detail when it comes to film sessions before the game and individual tactics during the game were the difference in winning and losing this season,” junior Idrissa Barrie said.
Coach MacDougall was with the men’s soccer program for only one season before leaving the team to pursue a head coaching position at Shenandoah University, who the Eagles have not played directly but are competing against in the regional rankings.
“Zach was instrumental in our team’s success on and off the field. He will be missed and we wish him the best at Shenandoah,” said head coach Jason Kilby.
The Shenandoah Hornets finished with a 6-10-1 record last year making it to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference quarterfinals before losing to Lynchburg University. The Hornets season was lead by their interim head coach Scott Hackett before MacDougall was offered the full-time position.
“I had a great experience at UMW. I worked with a great group of guys and it was bittersweet leaving but I am happy I had the opportunity to spend the past few months with the men’s soccer program,” said MacDougall.
The sting of losing an assistant coach and a key member of the team leaving is never easy, however, this is not a new feeling for the Eagles. Two years ago former assistant coach Max Watson also left after the team won their first CAC championship in over a decade. Watson was with the program for three years before departing the team in 2017 to coach at Scranton University.
“Coach Max definitely helped build a foundation and a culture that is here to stay and when he left we hoped to find another high-end coach which we did with Coach Zach. His wealth of knowledge about the game and dedication to our culture from the day he started helped us achieve our goals and we can only hope to find another coach like them,” junior captain Lucas Turney said.
The Eagles have progressed to the conference championship for the last three years in a row, winning the last two back to back. This trend of winning is a testament to the player’s resolve in the face of a constantly changing coaching staff.
“I think it is disrespectful that the past assistant coaches have used us to move on to what they think are better coaching opportunities elsewhere but it hasn’t affected team morale. We are still motivated to perform well with who ever takes that spot next,” freshman Mathew Pron said.
The team has not named any potential replacements for the new assistant coach position yet but that has not stopped the player’s leadership from making sure that the team is putting in the work to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament in the fall.
“We know what to do and we know how to do it. We just need good leadership and an attainable goal,” sophomore Kevin Conrad said.
Even with losing an integral part of the team’s success this season, the Eagles are hopeful and determined to improve upon their past success in the 2019 season.
“We are back to back champions of the CAC right now and next season we are going to three-peat. We have been working really hard in the off-season to try to achieve this goal and the team is getting better and stronger every day,” sophomore Joshua Everard said. “There will be challenges and obstacles along the way, but we are strong enough to overcome them.”