Buffalo, NY - With two weeks and three games remaining in the regular season schedule, the D'Youville men's soccer team has achieved a great deal of success already. Their success in conference play so far has been historic, but the team continues to fight for more.
The men currently have a 4-1-1 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) record, good for second in the conference behind the undefeated Mount Aloysius Mounties. The Spartan's hot start has not only garnished them a high standing in the conference, but it is also their best start in program history in conference play.
With their win on Tuesday over Hilbert, the men clinched their first .500 or better record in program history. Their prior best conference record was 4-5 in 2011, but the team started 1-3. Last season, the men were the sixth seed in the AMCC playoffs with a 3-5-1 record after going 3-0-1 in their final four games.
Their quest to be the best team in program history has gotten them to this point with room to get even better. Building off a playoff season last year has given the team experience and established a standard for success. When the team started their training in August, head coach Brendan Murphy saw that team had the ability to go places they had never been before.
"The veterans came to preseason with a business-like mentality and it is has permeated throughout the team," said Murphy. "With the new players that we have added and the leadership group who is starting to take ownership of the process, this team has exciting potential.
This team has formed a special bond over the course of the last 8 weeks. The players have shown tremendous collective belief and worked extremely hard to put the team in positions where we would have the opportunity to win some battles."
D'Youville has had a team effort across the board that has resulted in their success. Hunter Sherman (Lockport, NY/Lockport) leads the team in goals with seven, but four other players have scored two goals - including Alf Egge (Stavanger, Norway/Stavanger International) who is tied for the team lead in assists as well. Of their players that have added to the offense, three of their defenders have been major contributors.
Jake Kowalewski (Attica, NY/Attica) is tied with Egge for the team lead in assists with three, also adding a goal. Josh Hammer (Amherst, NY/Sweet Home) and Khaled Numan-Ali (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) have each scored a pair of goals as they have been able to be offensive weapons on set pieces. All three play big roles on the team's stout defense.
Kyle Dick (Churchville, NY/Churchville-Chili) has a shutout in each of the team's four conference wins this season, but he wouldn't be able to do succeed without his back line of Hammer, AJ Wade (Pendleton, NY/Starpoint), Matt Davis (Spencerport, NY/Spencerport), Kowalewski, and Numan-Ali.
All of these players have put in the work that Murphy has asked in their careers, no matter how long they have been with the program. However it has been not just the current rostered players but every player that has put on the D'Youville red that has allowed the team to get to this point.
"It has been a five-year process that has allowed this program the opportunity to have a start like this," said Murphy. "We are grateful to every player who has put on the Spartan uniform and dedicated their time and energy to our men's soccer program. You are all a part of this team's success."
Of the current players, Dick, Sherman, and Hammer have either broken records or on their way to break records. Dick is nearing the shutout record in just his second season, while Sherman has broken the goal record and Hammer is nearing the all-time games played/started records.
With the end of the regular season in sight, the men have a tough task with the first place Mounties coming to town on Saturday. They have an undefeated record and have allowed two goals in conference play. For their final home game of the season, the men will play the Penn State-Behrend Lions in another major showdown.
With the playoffs in sight, Murphy and his team will continue to battle and put effort into reaching their ultimate goal by working on the things that that they
"We know that we have a tough road ahead and there are so many factors that affect the outcome of every game," said Murphy. "We will work hard to maintain our focus through the home stretch and concentrate on what we can control: our preparation, our mentality and our work rate."