Joining the ranks, changing the guard

by Jean Merlain / Beacon Staff • September 27, 2012

Menssoccer ally
Ole Erikson uses his head to play the game, while men's soccer works to improve the rough start to its new athletic season.
Ole Erikson uses his head to play the game, while men's soccer works to improve the rough start to its new athletic season.

With more advanced courses, intense practices, and a demanding game schedule, Emerson College men’s soccer player Trevor Beitz finds himself working a little harder to adjust to the daily routine of a college athlete.

Beitz, a sophomore who attends Berklee College of Music and plays through the ProArts consortium, is one of 13 rookies joining Head Coach Jared Scarpaci’s squad of 15 returning athletes. 

Scarpaci, who has led the program since 2003, said he knew the transition wouldn’t come easily for the new players, 11 of whom are freshmen.

 “There is no way to easily transition to college soccer,” Scarpaci said. “Students are forced to quickly become accustomed to time management, diet, sleep — or lack of — classes, and then soccer. So it’s really not a soccer issue. The way I look at it, it’s a freshman issue of adjusting.”

The Lions are about halfway through their season and hold a record of 2-6. Freshman goalie Carter Bowers, a journalism major, has played in all of the games so far this season and has started six.

“It’s a different style of play as far as when you get out there and play against other teams,” Bowers said. “The practice before games is definitely different from what we’re used to.”

Bowers was captain of his high school’s team in Gorham, Maine and was named the first-team  all-conference during his junior and senior years. 

Also boasting high school honors are Beitz and midfielder Dan Knight. 

Beitz, a midfielder from Oak Park, Calif., was a two-time all-league honor recipient.

Knight, a freshman from Chester Springs, Penn. was captain of the Coventry Club and a member of the league championship team.

Because the players are adjusting pretty well to the program, according to Scarpaci, they’ve been putting up good minutes and impacting the on-field dynamic. 

The players, though, feel otherwise. Beitz said the team has had more of an impact on him.

“It’s just really nice to expand my social circle,” said Beitz. “You know, you’ve got 30 new friends. [The] impact I’ve had on the team, I don’t know. I mean, we’re just rookies, it’s kind of hard to make the biggest impact.”

Adjusting to the program wouldn’t come easy without the help of the returning players and upperclassmen, Scarpaci said.

“[The returning players] have been the older brothers to these guys in teaching them the ropes of the team, the time management, and all those things,” said Scarpaci. “They’ve embraced it. Even though you have half rookies and half return, you don’t have two teams. They’re really playing and getting along.”

A full team effort will be needed to keep up with an advancing athletic and academic program. Starting in the 2013-14 academic year, Emerson will leave the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and join the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), which is known for its high academic standards. 

“We’re in a new conference next year, so that’s going to be a challenge,” Knight said. “With this being our last year in the GNAC, hopefully we’ll go out with a bang. Next year is a whole new level of competition, bigger schools, and tougher competition. Hopefully we’ll be ready.”

Before that happens, however, the Lions must focus on the second half of this season, which includes seven conference matchups. Emerson will take to Rotch Field tonight against Wheelock College. 

According to Scarpaci, the team has a bright future. 

“I see that the core of these guys [rookies] are clearly the future of the program,” he said. “They’re going to get bigger, faster, stronger. The chemistry should grow, and that’s just going to be make us a better team.”