Senior center back Jason Jacobe has a unique distinction on the University of Maine’s men’s soccer team this season.
He is the only returnee who scored a goal last year. Players who scored 11 of the 12 goals have departed.
Maine’s inability to put the ball in the net proved costly as the Bears went 2-11-2 with six one-goal losses.
Five of those one-goal losses came in America East play, including two overtime setbacks as the Bears went 0-6-2.
“We’ve got to score by committee,” said seventh-year head coach Travers Evans. “We’re not going to have one guy score 20 goals. We need a bunch of guys chip in with two, three, four or five goals.”
Fifth-year senior midfielder and co-captain Cooper Friend of Ellsworth agreed.
“We don’t have a go-to goal scorer right now so we need everybody to contribute, including the backs,” said Friend. “We definitely have some talent. I’m positive. We’ve just got to put it together.”
Six newcomers have made their Maine debuts in Maine’s first three games: losses to UMass (2-0), Boston College (4-1) and Northeastern (2-1).
“We’ve got a real young team but we’re coming along. We’ve been getting better and better every match and our hope is that as we go along, we’re going to become a team people don’t want to [play],” said Evans after Tuesday’s loss to Northeastern. “We made mistakes on both of Northeastern’s goals and if we can eliminate those mistakes, we’ll be fine.”
Jacobe said with so many new players in the lineup “it’s going to take time to work out the kinks. Improvement every game is all you can ask for when you have a lot of young guys. I’m not worried. It’s the conference games that matter.”
The Bears have some experience up front in junior Jimmy Velas and sophomores Dimitri Anastasiou and Martin John. Velas had a pair of assists last fall. Freshmen Phil Reed, Jordan Antonucci and Marc Goulet are exciting strikers with a lot of potential and Hampden’s Andre Cushing could also figure into the mix.
Reed scored vs. Northeastern.
Friend, an All-America East second-team pick a year ago and a previous first-team choice and all-rookie team selection, will anchor the midfield. He had three assists last season and scored the goal against BC.
“He’s one of the best players in the league. He runs the show for us,” said Evans.
Juniors Kyle Nicholson and Dan Eggert also have experience in the midfield and highly touted freshman Kenny Caceros has provided the Bears with some solid minutes there. Goulet has also seen duty in the midfield.
Co-captain Jacobe, junior Kyle Nicholson and University of Vermont transfer Kiaran McCormack are seasoned veterans in the back with sophomore Adrian LeRoy completing the starting fullback corps. Another sophomore, Andy Price, will also get playing time.
The goaltending situation is up in the air with the graduation of Chad Mongeon, who started 11 of the 15 games last year.
Jack Brunino, a junior, has played all three games so far. Ben Piotrowski, a sophomore, is recovering from a broken hand and freshman Dereck Loisel is awaiting clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse.
“It’s up for grabs,” said Evans.
Men’s soccer schedule
2 – at Holy Cross, 7 p.m.
5 – vs. Harvard, 3 p.m.
9 – at Sacred Heart, noon
15 – at Cal Poly, 7 p.m.
17 – at Cal State-Fullerton, 5 p.m.
23 – vs. Binghamton, noon
27 – at Hartford, 6 p.m.
30 – at New Hampshire, 1 p.m.
4 – at North Carolina State, 2 p.m.
7 – vs. Md. Baltimore County, 1 p.m.
11 – vs. Albany, 3 p.m.
14 – at Vermont, 1 p.m.
18 – at Stony Brook, 7 p.m.
21 – vs. Boston University, 11 a.m.