Despite Loss on Senior Day, Men’s Soccer Remains Hopeful for MASCAC Playoff Games

Owen Brown, Sports Writer

Men’s Soccer Seniors Paolo Kareh, Max Whalen, Wesley Call, and Sam Edge on the field with their families during senior day. (Photo from MCLa Athletics)

A goal by Salem State’s Brendan Davis in just under four minutes in the second period proved to be the dagger for the Vikings, as they ended up defeating the Trailblazers on Senior Day by a final score of 3-1. With the loss, MCLA drops to 5-8-1 on the season, with Salem State improving their record to 10-4-2.

Despite the loss, the team remains optimistic about how they played, with the score not exactly showing how close the game truly was.

“I don’t think three to one is indicative of the result,” said Head Coach, Adam Hildabrand. “I think other league members might look at three to one and think ‘ah, they beat them up,’ but that’s not the case.”

“I think Salem is going to leave here battered and bruised… no matter what the result is, we have a battle,” he continued.

During the pre-game introduction, the team honored their four seniors, Paolo Kareh, Max Whalen, Wesley Call, and Sam Edge, with their families coming on the field to celebrate.

Hildabrand expressed how proud he was of each of the seniors, not just for what they have done for the program since they arrived, but also for their efforts off the field and in the MCLA community.

“They’re all four great young men,” he said. “I think we’re having a great season because we have four great young men leading us. All of them, whether it be Paolo, Max, Sam, or Wesley, they’re well respected within the community, well respected on the team, and I’m really happy they’re in the program,” he continued.

After the ceremony, it was game time, with the Vikings making some early noise with a goal by Gabriel DaSilva eight minutes and 54 seconds into the game. However, MCLA would strike back only six minutes and 17 seconds later, with Jacob Mahlburg hitting his fourth goal of the season on an assist by Marcos Lopez, tying the game 1-1.

The game would remain scoreless going into the half, but the Trailblazers were able to create more chances early in the second period. An error by the Viking’s defense gave Call a chance to score and take the lead, but he was not able to put enough velocity on the ball, and allowed Salem State’s goalkeeper, Matt Hauntsman to get a stop and keep the game tied.

From there, Salem State took advantage, with Michael Flynn getting the assist on a Brendan Davis goal to give the Vikings a 2-1 lead, which they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

MCLA would continue finding potential opportunities to score, as Call and Jacob Richardson would put shots on target, with Hauntsman continuing to play elite defense and saving both shots.

The Vikings would add an insurance goal late into the game, with Flynn picking up his second assist on a goal by DaSilva, his second of the game as well.

Reflecting back on the game, the team felt that it all came down to a few chances of deciding on who got the win versus who got the loss.

“I think it just comes down to just a couple of small chances, a couple of mistakes,” said Edge ‘22. “I think we were in it for most of the game, competed, didn’t really have anything solid, but again it just comes down to a couple of moments where they capitalized,” he continued.

Despite the loss, the Trailblazers still have plenty of soccer left to play. A 3-0 shutout win against Fitchburg State on October 15 clinched their ticket to the MASCAC playoff tournament. With only two games left to play in the regular season, the team has its eyes set on accomplishing the ultimate goal of a championship.

To get there though, creating more offensive opportunities to score, along with the mindset of team comradery and working together, will help them come as one and be ready for any opponent that comes their way.

“I think two things,” said Edge. “Working as a collective and working for each other is a huge thing that team culture, and second thing just putting the ball in the back of the net, creating offensive chances, offensive possessions, I think if we can do that, we’ll be able to have a good day,” he continued.

For the Trailblazers, Mahlburg led the team with one goal, Lopez led the team with one assist, Call led the team with three shots on goal, and Edge finished the night with five saves behind the net.

On the Vikings side, DaSilva led the team with two goals, Flynn led the team with two assists, DaSilva and Davis both finished with two shots on goal, and Hauntsman finished with five saves.

The Trailblazers wrap up their regular season with a home game against out-of-conference opponent Eastern Connecticut State on Tuesday, followed by a trip to Bridgewater State on Saturday.