Seniors Honored in Men’s Soccer, Despite Last-Minute Loss to Saint Anselm


Gianfranco Lopreiato

The Yellow Jackets line up for the National Anthem.

Gianfranco Lopreiato, Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD, MA–The American International College men’s soccer team took on Saint Anselm on their annual senior day. The graduating students and all of their contributions to AIC on and off the field were celebrated and honored before the game. The match occurred at 3 pm on Saturday, October 15, at Abdow Field, where a last-minute goal saw the Yellow Jackets fall to the Hawks 2-1 through the 90 minutes.

The Hawks initiated the scoring with a run down the left flank and a cut-back cross from Zach Verow, where Jonas Walter stormed the box and tapped it in to make it 1-0.

AIC responded to tie the game at 1-1 in the fifty-eighth minute. Freshman Christian Amaral scored a beautiful freekick, curling it into the top left corner.

This was Amaral’s fourth goal of the season. “It was a great feeling to get the goal and get level,” he said. “I felt it shifted the momentum for the rest of the game.”

The Hawks stunned the Yellow Jackets’ momentum and dominance when they netted a header in the eighty-ninth minute from a corner kick to take the lead, 2-1.

Reflecting on the match, freshman Thomas Lafayette lamented the loss. “We possessed the ball well, but did not punish them when we had the chances to score,” he said. “Because of this, unfortunately, we lost the game in the final minute.”

This tough loss puts AIC 2-6-5 on the season, with a 1-4-3 record in the NE-10.

Despite the devastating result, seniors David Harper, Jordi Brinkman, Dirk Doppin, and Samir Regragui were celebrated on their special night, accompanied by their friends and family.

David Harper, the Navan, Ireland native, has been an integral part of the men’s soccer program for the past six years. After picking up a season-ending injury in his first year, Harper earned a starting position during his sophomore year and has been the captain for the past two seasons. Throughout his time at AIC, Harper has started 51 of 57 games, anchoring the back line and leading the team. He led the program to its best season in 2021-2022, finishing 15-5-1, making the NE-10 final and the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance. “Dave pushed us from the start and motivated us through adversity,” said teammate and fellow captain Joseph Albano. Harper’s exceptional defensive, technical, and passing ability has been incredibly valuable for the team’s success.

Albano further emphasized that Harper has “always been a leader on and off the field. He constantly gave me great advice and helped me grow as a person and player.”

From Enschede, Netherlands, 6’4″ center back Jordi Brinkman has anchored the backline the last two seasons. He has played in 18 games, started in 13, and has tallied one goal and two assists. He came into the record-breaking squad in the 2021-2022 season and contributed to the team’s performances. Brinkman has been fantastic for the program, using his defensive presence, incredible left foot, and physical nature. Although battling with injury this season, Brinkman has been a prominent figure on the sidelines, leading by example and encouraging his teammates.

Brinkman’s fellow Dutchman, Dirk Doppin, has been a vital player in the men’s soccer program for the past two seasons. Starting in 22 out of 27 games, Doppin contributed six goals and one assist, garnering 13 points. He was also integral to the program’s success last season, starting in the midfield. With his incredible technical ability, size, and leadership, Doppin has been excellent for the Yellow Jackets.

Last but certainly not least, graduate student Samir Regragui from Great Britain has been an anchor in the Yellow Jackets’ midfield. Through the past two seasons, his incredible technique, hard work, and attacking ability have seen him tally four goals and seven assists. He has also started in 21 out of 24 games. In his first season as a Yellow Jacket last year, Regragui was named to the NE-10’s second team, playing an outstanding role in the historic season.

All four exceptional student athletes will now take the next steps in their lives, but AIC will not forget their contributions to the men’s soccer program.