ENC Men’s soccer team topped off an amazing season finishing 16-3-0 and clinching an NCAA tournament entry with a 3-1 victory over Lesley in the NECC championship game.The team faced the challenge of bringing back a national championship on Saturday, November 16. The team fought Rensselaer College, ranked 12/14, and lost 0-4.
This season was different than most under head coach Mark Bell. His squad ran through their schedule with ease under the leadership of the junior duo of Charlie Swann and Leon Zaffonato. This season’s success was not as easy as it appears. Coach Mark Bell was all about coaching his team a certain way. He said, “We have a way we want to play […] we make adjustments against teams that want us to sit back and do the same thing.”
He stressed everyone to buy into their role as he makes adjustments to help his team be successful on the field. Coach Bell emphasized to his staff that he wants to adjust the way he coaches to the type of players he has and not the other way around. He said, “our biggest strength was the talent on the team, from the starters to the bench guys [….] we were blessed to have a talented group with all the freshmen we have this year.” The biggest challenge he had this year was to see if the team can have the drive to keep their intensity throughout an entire year. Coach Bell was surprised to see how professional his team was at times when things were not at its best. This led to the maturity of the team, and it tested them when they get to the playoffs.
The men’s soccer team had a great deal of diversity, which made it a challenge to see how these pieces would come together. Bell made a powerful statement to his players, saying, “life is a great story.” He meant this because he has several players from all around the world, and he wants his players to develop skills to help them on and off the field to help compete at the highest level. This theme helped the freshman class contribute to the team’s energy.
The next step after their NECC win was to compete in the NCAA National Tournament. They went to Troy, New York, for a shot at being national champions. They played the 14th team in the country, and Bell’s mentality surrounding championship play was simple. “Nationals is a whole new […] game you have to be smarter and know where your passion is, the guys need to show up, and people will overlook us,” said Coach Bell.
Next season, Bell stressed the consistency of keeping players here at ENC and performing well as a program, growing the program so students would want to stay here.