The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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Promise for the Future and Great Memories Wraps Up the 2023 Men’s Soccer Season

The MCLA Men’s Soccer team starting lineup posing for a photo prior to their final game against Bridgewater State (via MCLA Athletics).

After making the MASCAC playoffs in each of the last two seasons, the MCLA Men’s Soccer team looked to build off of that momentum and secure a MASCAC title. Unfortunately, things do not always go as planned, as they finished the season with a 5-7-3 record and just short of a playoff appearance, losing their final game of the season to Bridgewater State 3-0 to officially be eliminated.

For senior defenseman Tyler Canata ‘24, the season represented both high and low points, but ultimately such high points will always be remembered as he concludes his career as a Trailblazer.

“We had very high hopes for the team going into the season,” he said. “ We felt good and were playing some great soccer, but we were our own worst enemy, and because of that, we didn’t even make playoffs. It was heartbreaking to be a senior and not make it in my last year, we worked so hard for us to shoot ourselves in the food in the end.”

“But there were a lot of positives to take away from our season. We played some great soccer and bonded as a family all season, with lots of laughs and lots of hard work,” he continued.

While the season did not end the way the team anticipated, there were still many high points for the team to look back on with fondness. The team would secure huge victories during their pinkout game against Worcester State 1-0, where forward David Kankam ‘26 would pick up the lone goal for the team, along with goalkeeper Oliver Le Lacheur ‘27 picking up his first start in an MCLA uniform and collected 11 saves on a perfect 11 attempts.

The team would also have a 12-0 blowout victory against Vermont State Lyndon, where ten different players would score at least one goal, along with a 3-1 victory against Keene State College, where Kankam would also secure the first hat trick of his career as well.

Ultimately, ties against Fitchburg State and Mass Maritime Academy were gut-wrenching blows for the team, with Canata describing them as “killing us internally.” As a result, with such a young team which included nine freshmen, the inexperience caused them to be unable to answer back when they needed to.

“We didn’t respond [during low points] in a mature way as we should have,” said Canata. “Being a young team, some didn’t understand that life moves on and we have to look at the next and not focus on the past. We referenced and looked back on the past too much and it got in the way of our success moving forward.”

While the team did not get to the end destination that they were hoping for, there were certainly many players that contributed great seasons, and will look to build off of them next year. Forward Jacob Malburg ‘26 would contribute ten total points and four assists, leading the team in both stats, with midfielder Reynaldo Castro ‘27 not too far behind with nine of his own. Forwards David Kankam ‘26 and Avery Manzolini would tie for the team lead in goals with four each. Le Lacheur would also earn the starting goalie position midway through the season and would ultimately lead the team with 40 saves, along with goalkeepers.

The MCLA Men’s Soccer team all smiles as Captain and Midfielder, Avani Richardson ’25 gives Reynaldo Castro ’27 after scoring a goal against Mass Maritime Academy (via Anthony Andolina).

With only two senior players in Canata and captain Tyler Cotting ‘24, along with former player and assistant coach J.C. Aponte ‘23 leaving the program, head coach Adam Hildabrand is excited for what is to come of this young group and they continue to develop and mature throughout their careers.

“It’s an exciting, young group of players, as our team is definitely freshmen and sophomore dominant,” he said. “They are a joy to coach, it’s great to come to training and it only takes one person to be that guy that ruins it for everyone else in training or during games, and they are not that way.”

“It’s hard when a coach gets on you in training, but I think they have some good character and they are so easy to coach, so that’s definitely what I take out of this group,” he continued.

While the number of seniors leaving the team is low, the impact that Canata, Cotting, and Aponte brought to the team will certainly be hard to replace. Hildabrand acknowledged the great character and leadership they brought to the team and that their contributions will certainly be missed.

“What I can say about all of them is that they are amazing people, amazing families,” he said. “I love coaching, it’s almost like an addiction, I love what I do and I love where I do it, and it’s so much easier and so much more rewarding when you have great people in leadership positions.”

“They’re truly great people, and it makes my job easier when you have great people, and all of them are so well respected by their peers,” he continued.

The future is looking bright, and while some of the players will no longer be a part of the program moving forward, fans should expect big things from the young core moving forward as they continue on their quest to bring home that coveted MASCAC title.

“This team is going places, and I know it,” said Canata. “The team I am leaving is strong and determined after last season’s results. MCLA hasn’t won a MASCAC title in 16 years, and the boys who are there now are willing to push each other to get that result. Fans can expect some shows from our boys next season, that’s for sure. They are on a mission.” 


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Owen Brown, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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