By Andrew Smith
The Adelphi men’s soccer began the 2022 season with a promising start. The Panthers only lost one match during the majority of the first half of the season. Unfortunately, the team hit a roadblock and dropped two consecutive games to the College of Saint Rose and Le Moyne College. Despite the two losses, the Panthers rebounded and eventually reached the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. Sadly, their season ended with a loss to the University of Charleston. Even so, there were victories to celebrate and reflect on as they enter the fall 2023 season. Among these were the accomplishments of graduate student Daniel De La Heras who was the backbone of the team in 2022. He cracked the top 10 in single-season shutout leaders in school history with seven clean sheets and was a positive contributor to their successful start of the season by posting a winning result in nine out of his first 10 starts. De La Heras, who is studying applied mathematics and data sciences
and is entering his fifth season on the team, reflected on the season ending. “Last season had a bittersweet taste. The start was perfect; we had great victories against strong teams and even achieved a national ranking. We faced a major setback halfway through the season after losing two important games against serious opponents,” he said. “However, we managed to overcome this and qualified for the conference playoff semifinals and the second round of the NCAA tournament.”
The goalkeeper added, “The 4-0 loss against Charleston in the Nationals was very upsetting. We believed we were ready to go all the way, but the defeat against a fantastic team like Charleston or Franklin Pierce taught us what is necessary to challenge for the National Championship. On a more personal level, this season helped develop my character and turned me into a leader on the field.”
Last season, Benjamin Jones, now a rising senior, was a staple of the lineup by registering 17 starts on defense. He stated, “We had some great team performances throughout the season, but unfortunately the results didn’t go our way in the important games, and this is something we’re looking to rectify this year.”
The offseason always presents an excellent opportunity to do more than reflect on past games. It gives the athletes a chance to put those ideas into action. De La Heras said, “During the offseason, I mainly worked on my footwork. In Coach Gary Book’s system, this is necessary and highly important as a goalkeeper. The offseason truly helps get to know all your teammates and build the chemistry necessary to succeed in our system.”
Jones added that in the off-season, they worked on tactics and chemistry throughout the team, learning to adapt and play with different personnel on the field. “I have worked on my own game individually and areas in which I can improve, as well as general strength and fitness work to make myself the best version possible,” he said.
The Panthers begin their 2023 campaign in Springfield, Massachusetts, against Wilmington University (Delaware) on August 31 and Post University and September 2 for the American International College Tournament [AIC].
“We are a young team, but we have much character, and fingers crossed we can walk away with a trophy at the end of this year,” Jones added.
You can support the Panthers for the home opener at Motamed Field on September 9 as they welcome the Dominican University of New York.