By SAM DONNELLY
At this time last season, the UNH men’s soccer team held a record of 2-3-0 and had scored just two goals. This season, through five games, the Wildcats are 4-0-1 and have scored 12 goals. For the first time since 2008 the Wildcats have started their first five games without a loss.
On top of that, the Wildcats received a number two ranking in the NSCAA Division I East Regional Poll. The No. 2 ranking is the highest since 2005 when the Wildcats reached No. 1. All this success is coming under new head coach and hometown kid, Marc Hubbard. Despite the winning and the rankings, Hubbard says the team is still a work in progress.
“We try and constantly preach that we don’t want be overconfident,” Hubbard says, “We need to become a better soccer playing team. We have picked up things from each game that we can do better. We still have a long way to go.”
The Wildcats are coming off two wins at the Peter Baldwin Memorial Classic. After beating Central Connecticut State 2-0 on Friday, the Wildcats followed up with a 2-0 win over UNC Ashville. Junior midfielder Chris Wingate scored both of UNH’s goals against CCSU, while senior Ben Ramin scored the other two goals against UNC-Ashville. Wingate was selected as the tournament MVP after his performance in both games. Ramin, Andrew Chaput, Lukas Goerigk, and Riley Ellis were selected to the All-Tournament team.
Wingate has been singled out multiple times by Hubbard for his play on the field. The 5-foot-11-inch Wingate is tied with Ramin for most points on the team, with seven. Wingate leads the team in shots with 16, which is one of the many reasons Hubbard likes him on the field.
“He has a comfort on the ball,” Hubbard said. “He can keep the ball on our defensive third, he can set up players, he can score. He’s just a great all around player.”
Despite Wingate leading the way, the Wildcats have had eight players score goals and 10 players tally at least one point through their first five games. This statistic alone pleases Hubbard.
“What I’ve been happy about with the team so far is that the offensive production has been spread out,” Hubbard said. “It’s a good thing that we don’t have to consistently rely on one guy to make a play. That’s a product of the way we are trying to play by creating lots of opportunities.”
The Wildcats will come home for the first time since Aug. 28 to play a UMass team that has yet to win a game. Although this game doesn’t look tough on the Wildcats schedule, Hubbard insists this game is just as important as the rest.
“Any team that hasn’t won a game can let you fall into a mental spot where you underestimate them,” Hubbard said. “They’re away from home and are going to put it all on the line. We have to treat it like any other game.”
As the Wildcats move foreword and experience more success, more and more people around the UNH community will begin to take notice. The style of play can be described in one phrase. Exciting.
“We create a lot of attacking opportunities which is always fun to watch,” Hubbard said, “They’re going to get to see players who can combine and think freely and take risks, while still upholding the blue-collar attitude that existed here for plenty of years.”
The Wildcats will take on UMass Sept. 19 on Bremner Field. The game will begin at 7 p.m.