The NEC men’s soccer team finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 8-11, a conference record of 4-2, and an unfortunate loss in the Final Four to Eastern Nazarene College.
The Pilgrims started the season going 3-4 through seven non-conference games but started NECC play with a 2-1 with over Mitchell College.
“Our expectations at the beginning of the season was that after the regular season, [we would] put ourselves in a good position to win the NECC Conference Championship,” said interim head coach Gerard Miniaci. “We earned the #2 seed in the tournament and even though we did not finish the job of winning the championship, we feel that we accomplished a lot.”
Miniaci served as the Pilgrims’ Graduate Assistant last season but stepped up once former head coach Dave DeCew was hired as the Director of Athletics after 16 seasons at the helm of men’s soccer.
“Finishing as the second seed and beating Eastern Nazarene College when they were nationally ranked were probably the highs of the season,” said senior midfielder Kyle Clements. “The lows were the playoff loss [to ENC] and getting handed a 6-0 loss to Babson.”
Winning three out of the last four conference games in the regular season helped the Pilgrims secure a first-round bye heading into the postseason.
“Although the end result in postseason wasn’t what we wanted, I feel that the lads showed [a lot of] fight prior to getting into postseason,” said senior midfielder Panagiotis Galatas.
NEC had six players named to the All-NECC team. Galatas and fellow senior defensemen Jackson Easter earned first team honors, while Clements, senior defensemen Ryder Valinski, junior forward Tucker Stenger, and freshman forward Wiskens Flavil all earned second team. Flavil also garnered NECC Rookie of the year after finishing third in the conference in points with 10.
Galatas and Easter were also named to the NECC-All Tournament Team.
“Our freshmen came in and really adjusted well to the expectations of the coaching staff and the collegiate game,” said Coach Miniaci. “We started two freshmen in a majority of our games and a number of them contributed great minutes.”
As the Pilgrims are losing six seniors and graduate student Chris Morse, including three captains (Clements, Morse and Valinski), the seven remaining juniors are looking to continue to build on the foundation they helped set, as all seven departing players were members of the 2016 NAC Championship team.
“I’m looking forward to improving our team’s chemistry,” said Stenger. “We are already a close team on and off the field, but I believe that if we are able to generate even more chemistry than we will improve our team’s overall performance.”
Coach Miniaci is looking forward to improving and working with next year’s crew after having a “truly amazing” first year at the head of the program.
“I’d like to give one final thank you to the seniors that achieved so much during their tenure at NEC,” said Coach Miniaci. “They will all be excellent young men once they graduate and I am glad to be a part of their success.”