Men’s soccer improvement offers optimism for next year

James Edmonds | Staff Writer

The UNC Wilmington men’s soccer team had a season full of ups and downs. The Seahawks were able to return to the CAA tournament, but it wasn’t without struggle.

 “We knew going into the season that we had a very challenging schedule, and a very young team with which to work,” said Coach Aidan Heaney.

The final record for the year may have been 7-11-1, which Heaney admits may not sound optimal, but he is confident that it will translate into a good deal of future success. After all, a total of 19 players on this year’s squad were either freshmen or sophomores.

“They’re all a bunch of young guys, and the best part is that they show up every day and they’re ready to work,” Heaney said. “I really truly believe that their work ethic will translate into future success.”

Besides the work ethic of the young players on the team, there are some serious credentials to back up Heaney’s confidence for the future of the UNCW program. Colin Bonner and Nathaniel Goodwin, both freshmen, led the team in scoring, while Bonner also won All-CAA honors for his accomplishments. Additionally, veteran leaders like team captain Jacob VanCompernolle will be returning with his defensive prowess, leadership ability, and experience to help push the Seahawk men to greater heights next year.

The high point of the season for Coach Heaney, surprisingly enough, wasn’t getting his 100th win as head coach when the Seahawks shut out William & Mary in Williamsburg 3-0 on Oct. 3, but instead “working with a great group of guys day in and day out” and “beating Duke.”

“I didn’t even realize it was number 100,” Heaney said of the team’s win over the Tribe. “I guess it had to happen sometime, but I didn’t know until someone texted me on the way back.”

The season had its low points as well. Losing in the playoffs in sudden death fashion to JMU on what Heaney called a “sloppy goal, absolutely terrible” made the list. The Binghamton game, which ended with Binghamton scoring a goal with only a few ticks remaining, leaving the Seahawks no chance to recover was definitely a low point as well. The shot was a put-back after a near miss hit the crossbar and rebounded back into play. Heaney says those moments are learning moments for everyone on the team, though.

“Many people would say, ‘Oh we should have done this or should have done that,'” Heaney said. “We don’t dwell on what happened on the field. We learn from mistakes and look toward improving in the future.”

With the upcoming season already looming large and promising, Heaney has already begun looking to the future. Of course, he isn’t getting distracted by what lies ahead either.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” he said. “Right now I’m focused on getting that first win.”