November 15, 2016
By Christopher Sich
The 2016 Dominican men’s soccer team was eliminated from the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) tournament on Wednesday, November 2, falling to the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors in penalty kicks.
The Stars came back from a 1-0 deficit to gain a 2-1 lead, but the Warriors tied the game with eight minutes to go and sent the game to extra time. After two scoreless 10 minute periods, the game was decided at the penalty spot where the Warriors came out on top 5-4.
The loss was painful, but it does not take away from the great season that the Stars had.
“There are a lot of positives to take away from the season,” Head Coach Baumann said. “We had a talented team, were consistent with our system of play, and we finished our season on a 14-game unbeaten streak.”
Along with the 14-game unbeaten streak, the Stars also went undefeated in conference with a 9-0-1 record and only gave up three goals in the 10 conference games. The Stars also had a list of players receive NACC awards.
Alex Rodher was named conference Defensive Player of the Year, rookie Isaac Perez was named Freshman of the Year and head coach Erick Baumann was named NACC Coach of the year. Rodher was joined by Jonathan Arzeta and Gabe Gongora on the All-NACC First team. Adam Yaghmour, Zack Venzon and Michael Delaney also received honors and joined Perez on the All-NACC Second Team.
“I am very proud of this team,” Baumann said. “We are all disappointed that we did not make the NCAA tournament but we are not going to overlook the big accomplishments that were made.”
The Stars are still training, excluding the seniors, and will continue to do so throughout the NCAA tournament. According to Baumann these training sessions will be used as a time to transition.
“These extra training sessions allows the players that wish to take a leadership role, to come forward and become leaders,” Baumann said.
These training sessions will also allow the team to get a head start on the goals they wish to accomplish for 2017 season.
“One of our goals is to find a way to improve mental toughness, concentration and focus in high pressure moments,” Baumann said. “We lacked a lot of mental toughness and I believe that was exposed in the times of high pressure moments and games. We want to be more consistent.”
Even though the season did not end as the players and coaching staff would have liked, the team should be very proud, especially the seniors. Each player gave their very best each and every day and made the coaching staff proud.
“I am very proud of all our seniors, Gabe Gongora, Zack Venzon, Frankie Saiz and Alex Rohder, and the contributions they have made to this program,” Baumann said. “Gongora and Venzon have given a lot to the program this year as captains and they will be missed on and off the field. I also want to acknowledge the great play of Gongora in the goal, he ranks up there with the best keepers we have had in our program.”
Next season the Stars will be without these four key players, but the young talent on the team has shown that are ready to compete, learn, and win.
The future of the men’s soccer program looks bright and they look forward to the 2017 season where they will look to once again win the NACC conference season, and take the next step forward and win the NACC conference tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament.