Last season was another strong showing for both of the Yellow Jackets soccer teams, with both the men and women making it to the semi-finals of the NE-10 conference tournament. They are now preparing for next season and Coach Isa and Coach Perry are looking at a bright future ahead for their teams.
After finishing the season with an in-conference record of 6-5-2, the AIC women’s soccer team will play some challenging matches this off-season to prepare for next season. The women’s team is set to play teams from Division I, like University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Siena during their spring season of 2020.
Head coach Kevon Isa said these games would shape the team for the coming year. “The spring season is the perfect time to make decisions about next season,” Isa said. “There are a few international [students] coming in and some fresh feet that we are going to integrate to the team in early August.”
Makayla Bigard, a transfer junior from a Division I school (Central Connecticut State University) noted that the style of play is different between the two divisions. In Division I, “it is less physical and more technical and tactical. But, like everyone else, you end up adapting to it and understanding the game better.”
The Yellow Jackets will begin their spring season the first weekend of March, facing off against an International Japanese team. They are preparing the last few weeks before games start with intensive training on the turf and inside the gym.
“I think we have a good team this spring season,” Coach Isa said. “The girls have been working hard since they came back from winter break, and I believe we are up to the teams we are facing.”
Bigard agreed. “I believe we have a good group this year and the upcoming fall. We’ve been a long way since the beginning of the season.”
“It is hard to focus on making a good team and having chemistry on the field when you come one week before the season starts,” Bigard added. “It is a tough process to make everyone able to connect on and off the field because we jump right into the games.” But she and the other women on the team are up to the challenge.
The men’s soccer team had a good chance of making it to the finals last year after finishing the season 6-5-2 in the conference. But they fell just short, losing the semi-final game of the NE-10 conference playoffs to Assumption, 3-2.
David Harper, a red-shirt freshman defender from Ireland, thought that the team “had perfect chemistry last season. But I believe it was the small mistakes that did not let us pass to the final. We fought hard till the end, but sometimes it is not meant to be.”
Men’s soccer has also been practicing since early January. Coach Luke Perry has been training the team so that they are prepared for the spring season of 2020.
“We have what it takes to make a better team and… to not commit the same mistakes we did in the past that cost us the semi-final game,” Coach Perry said. “This spring season is about focusing on those mistakes and creating a better environment.”
Harper noted, “We lost a lot of seniors this spring season, but the ones that are still here are working hard every day to bring back the possibility of winning the NE-10 final. There is a good build-up of the team this year and I am confident that we are capable of even more. And the players that are coming in August will help us make a better team as well.”
The Yellow Jackets—both the men’s and the women’s soccer teams—are now focused on the preparation for the coming conference season. Even though it starts in September, their mindset is to start focusing on the games now.
The spring season kicks off for the women on Ronald Abdow Field when they play an international Japanese team on Friday, March 6. For the men’s team, their first friendly will be Friday, March 20, against the Western Mass Pioneers, a USL League Two semi-pro team from Ludlow Massachusetts.