The Northeastern men’s soccer team has been sending a message to the college soccer world for the past few years: Don’t underestimate the Huskies.
Last year’s squad, picked to finish sixth in the Colonial Athletic Association, reached the conference semifinals. This year, the Huskies aim to exceed expectations again with a CAA championship and berth in the NCAA tournament.
The path won’t be easy, as Northeastern will face four teams currently ranked in the top 25, including a Final Four team from last year in No. 7 Providence.
We talked with head coach Brian Ainscough and the two senior captains—defenseman Mike Lobben and goalie Dylan Faber—about the upcoming season, which kicks off on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Temple at Parsons Field.
Last year’s team finished just three points shy of first place in the CAA and made it all the way to the conference semifinals. What are the expectations for this season?
Ainscough: As last year progressed we started to get better and better. So if we can come out of the gates a little better this year, even though we are very young, I expect us to do well in our conference. We expect to be one of the top teams (in the CAA).
Lobben: If we don’t have the goal of winning the CAA, then we shouldn’t be playing.
The schedule for this year has four teams ranked in the top 25. How do expect the team to respond to such a tough schedule?
Ainscough: We want to be pushed, and with a young group we want to give them these types of experiences.
Faber: We are focused on Temple first and then we’ll move on to our games against Stanford and California. We take it one game at a time. We’ll definitely change the way we play, knowing our opponent, and we’ll talk about that once we are done with Temple.
In what area of the game would you like to see the biggest improvement?
Ainscough: Last year, we gave up the most goals (28) we have ever given up as a team in my time here. That was a shocking statistic for the players and we have been trying to remedy that all preseason.
The team has already played two exhibition games, against Albany and Rhode Island. What have you learned from those two games?
Ainscough: We seem to be able to boss the games. We were in control of the tempo.
With a team predominately made up of freshmen and sophomores, how does youth impact expectations and preparation?
Lobben: More than half our team members are sophomores and younger, and we are asking them to be in a professional environment, so it’s our job as seniors to show them the way and show them how it’s done day in and day out.
What about the new season are you most looking forward to?
Lobben: I’m excited to see what we can do. This team has a lot of potential and hopefully we live up to it. I think we will.