Coming off of a great season last year, Coach John O’Connor and the Castleton men’s soccer team are looking to do more of the same in this year’s campaign.
After winning the North Atlantic Conference tournament last year and making it to the NCAA Division 3 tournament only to be eliminated by eventual winner Messiah, the team has switched conferences and is now in the Little East Conference.
Coach O’Connor spoke about the transition from the NAC to the LEC, and he said that what keeps them ready for any competition is scheduling.
“For me it was about scheduling, trying to make sure you schedule good teams all the time, so that preps them for good games,” O’Connor said with enthusiasm. “I think it’s always playing good games outside of the league has helped us to do that.”
The Spartans opened their season with an 8-1 loss to Clark University on Aug. 31. Although last season’s NAC Rookie of the Year Seraphin Iradukuda scored his first goal of the season in the first half, the Spartans did not put any other chances in the back of the net.
Their second game of the season, however, was a different story. They took on Northern Vermont-Lyndon the following Tuesday and won by a score of 6-0.
Seraphin Iradukunda was once again the main contributor, with two goals and two assists.
“The first game was tough,” O’Connor said. “Our two starting defenders were out and our central defender got hurt in the first half, so we were a little out of shape.”
When comparing the first game to the second game, O’Connor said, “I know the standard of the two teams were not the same, but the fact is we wanted to make sure that a shutout was important to us.”
“Seraphin is important, and he has grown as a player,” O’Connor said when talking about Iradukunda taking a leadership role in his second season with the team. “But with that in mind, there is a really good group around him and they trust him to make some decisions that some other players maybe you don’t want them making those same decisions.”
Iradukuda has three goals and two assists through the first two games of the season.
Sept. 8 was the date for the Spartans’ third game of the 2018 campaign, where they suffered their second loss of the season to the Clarkson Golden Knights by a score of 2-0.
The Spartans had five of their eight shots be on target, but none could find the back of the net in this game.
“For us, our overall goal is to get better every game, but we want to make the LEC tournament,” O’Connor said. “That’s where we want to be our first year, and we feel like we can compete to do that. It’s not going to be easy, but certainly that is a big goal for us, and now when you set the standard of going to the [NCAA] tournament you want to go back.”