By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Bridgewater State University men’s soccer team relied heavily on underclassmen last season with just three seniors on the roster.
The same will be true this year with only a pair of seniors – Kessy Alves of Brockton and Kane Moran of Australia – from that class.
The Bears do have a solid group of underclassmen who gained experience in 2017 when the team went 6-10-3 and 3-3-1 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, losing to Framingham State, 1-0, in the quarterfinal round of the tournament.
“I enjoy the fact that we have a good number of players coming back,″ said coach Brendan Adams, who is entering his 17th season. “It’s just little things you run into, making sure the younger players are acting professional, eating right, sleeping right. Some guys are experiencing things for the first time and you have to balance everything.
“But now with the players returning, you go over a drill and we’ve already done it, so there’s no confusion.″
Bridgewater State opens the season with home games on Aug. 31 against Western New England and on Sept. 1 against UMass-Boston. The Bears play six of their first seven games at home, including the MASCAC opener against Salem State on Sept. 15.
The top returning players include Moran and goalkeeper Nate Morgado, who both earned spots on the All-MASCAC second team a year ago.
Moran, a midfielder, had a goal and three assists while Morgado posted a 1.39 goals-against average with five shutouts in 18 games.
Bridgewater State is picked to finish second, according to the MASCAC preseason poll behind Salem State.
“I think we’ll be in the mix,″ said Adams, whose team finished below .500 the past two seasons. “We’ll probably be stronger in the back than on offense, but we’ll see how it goes.″
Last season’s top scorer, Filipe Gomes, who had seven goals and five assists and made the all-conference second team, did not return this year.
The leading returning scorer is Alves, a Southeastern Regional graduate who played at Massasoit Community College and Dean College before joining the Bears’ roster a year ago. Alves had four goals and two assists.
“He’s pretty clever with the ball,″ said Adams. “He does a good job holding the ball. We’re going to have him play quicker up the field with Kevin (Roberts), who can run all day.″
Adams expects Moran and Joe Cruise of Brockton, who started five games a year ago and contributed a goal and an assist, to join Alves as top offensive threats.
Returning on defense are Tim Alzamora (19 starts), Zachary Ells (18 starts) and Stanislaus Sokolov (14 starts) to give the Bears experience at that spot in front of Morgado.
BSU had 42 players report for training camp last week, and Adams will trim the roster to about 25 before the start of the season on Labor Day weekend.