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January 7, 2018

UMass men’s soccer seniors prepare for final games of career

Jorge Becerra embraces Josh Jess. Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

Jorge Becerra embraces Josh Jess. (Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian)

For three members of the Massachusetts men’s soccer team, this week’s Atlantic 10 tournament holds even more significance than the opportunity to call themselves conference champions.

Seniors Jorge Becerra, Ty Goncalves and Josh Jess have been playing soccer for nearly two decades, but Thursday’s game against Virginia Commonwealth potentially marks the end of their soccer careers.

Jess believes that more than likely this week’s tournament will be his final time manning the back line on a soccer field.

“I kind of think I’ll probably move on after with life goals after I’m done playing here,” Jess said. “You never know though. If there’s an opportunity or something like that maybe I’d be interested, but I most likely plan on just getting on with my life after.”

Although he does not yet know exactly what he would like to do from a job standpoint, he plans on traveling the world and experiencing different cultures after graduation.

Without soccer, Jess will be forced to find a new means to get away from the day-to-day grind of daily life.

“To come out here it’s like my escape,” he said. “So whatever’s going on in my life I kind of just have the field to go to and just could play and not think about whatever else is going on. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what my new escape for life is going to be afterwards.”

On the other hand, Becerra hopes his final season at UMass will be a springboard to a professional soccer career.

“Ever since I’ve been a kid, it’s been a dream to hopefully make it professionally,” Becerra said. “That’s the goal. I’m going to try and do that. I’ll pursue it as long as I can, but that’s the ultimate goal.”

Becerra’s plans for a professional career are still in the early stages. He is instead trying to focus on both school and his final season for the Minutemen.

“The coaches have really good connections. I talked to our assistant coach a little bit, touched on it before the season, but I’ve been trying to just focus on this season and then we’ll see how it works out afterwards,” Beccara said. “[I] kind of just take it step by step.”

Goncalves also hopes to continue his soccer career, but as a coach rather than a player.

“My dad coaches and I’ve just always wanted to coach, so I’ll probably get into that,” Goncalves said.

After graduation, Goncalves wants to become a graduate assistant for a college soccer team with hopes he can begin his coaching career and earn his master’s degree before eventually becoming a high school teacher where he could coach a high school varsity or junior varsity soccer team, in addition to a club team.

With potentially their final days as soccer players coming to an end, the players have been trying to cherish their last moments together.

“Just trying to enjoy everything,” Goncalves said. “Just trying to enjoy the practices. It’s been tough getting up early all year, but I know I’ll miss it in the spring and for the rest of my life, so just trying to enjoy the moment with the squad and enjoy these last road trips.”

Jess hopes that winning an A-10 championship could help send off his soccer career on a high note.

“Every time I see the seniors at the end of the [final] game just wicked emotional, in tears even, I kind of just wonder what I’m going to be feeling at the end of that,” Jess said. “I hope we can end it on a good note and get a win in the championship, so it won’t be as bad or as emotional.”

Jamie Cushman can be reached at jrcushman@umass.edu.

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