Camaraderie as strong as ever for UMass men’s club soccer amidst disappointment of season cancellation 

The team was one game away from a berth in nationals last season

Courtesy+of+UMass+Men%E2%80%99s+Club+Soccer+Twitter

Courtesy of UMass Men’s Club Soccer Twitter

By Ryan Beck, Collegian Correspondant

As a result of COVID-19, the UMass men’s club soccer team’s dream for redemption in the upcoming fall season has been put to a halt.

The Minutemen were one game away from a berth in the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) National Soccer Championships last year and have maintained the core group of players that nearly brought them to the pinnacle of club sports. The recent cancellation of the fall season has been particularly disappointing to veteran players who know how attainable that success would have been this fall.

“Last year we were one game off of going to nationals.” junior captain Ben Woishnis said. “If we had won that one game, we would be going to Texas, and now we were going to have a lot of the same returning players and we were going to have a great team and now we don’t get that chance which sucks.”

The cancellation of the fall season has hit even harder for senior players who have been looking forward to playing their final season since freshman year.

“I’ve been visualizing what the senior season would look like since I have been on the team as a freshman.” senior captain William Ryan said. “You always look up to seniors [as a freshman], seeing them having so much fun, and kind of living out their last semesters of school and putting more time into the team.”

Despite the loss of its fall season, the camaraderie of the men’s club soccer team is one that transcends the game itself.

“It’s a bunch of great guys that just want to get together and play soccer.” Woishnis said of his teammates. “We hang out, we go out together, we do things. Everyone gets along really well.”

As a senior captain, Ryan emphasized the importance of keeping everyone’s opinion in mind when it comes to leadership during the pandemic. Despite itching to get back on the pitch, Ryan knows that the pandemic is something larger than himself.

“You really have to satisfy all parties.” Ryan said. “Keeping in mind everyone’s opinions, prioritizing safety, and you also don’t want to get the school in trouble by playing, but I also try to keep interest in the team. I want the guys to still have the chemistry and the camaraderie and just like staying in touch through group chats is important.”

During these uncertain times, club sports especially have been receiving no guidance from UMass on how to move forward. Ryan feels as though this is a result of a recent change in leadership in the UMass recreation department, though he recognizes that managing club sports is no easy task.

“Managing so many club sports is definitely not an easy task when you have such a big school.” said Ryan. “Right now, we’re kind of in this middle area, this gray area of not really receiving much [guidance] from the school.”

As a result of this, the team has been trying to adhere to their own guidelines on how to move forward. The team says that any guidelines from the school would be helpful.

Over half of the team is living local to the Amherst area, and has been getting together when possible to play pickup and run practice. Players who are looking to try out for the team in the near future should keep up with their page on UMass Campus Pulse. The captains urged potential team members to stay sharp and keep honing their skills.

“They should definitely keep playing soccer as much as they can, even if it’s by themselves” said Woishnis. “There is a lot of kids that try out so just work on yourself and focus on yourself, that’s all you can do”

“Especially for the younger guys, I want them to be able to have the same experience that I did, because it was such a big part of [my] younger years at the school” said Ryan.

It is evident that the club soccer team has been rewarding for many UMass students, and members are hopeful that they can salvage their season in some capacity this year.

Ryan Beck can be reached at [email protected]. Followed him on Twitter @rybeck__7.