Gaels find their stride as they approach midseason

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Gaels find their stride as they approach midseason

PHOTO COURTESY OF ICGAELS.COM

PHOTO COURTESY OF ICGAELS.COM

PHOTO COURTESY OF ICGAELS.COM

Joseph Agius, Contributing Writer

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Sometimes you need a form of adversity to come your way in order to excel in life. The Iona College men’s soccer team started off the season with one win and two losses. The team lost to La Salle and St. Johns during this stretch along with a win against Vermont.

After this disappointing stretch, the team regrouped and has since won three straight games against Binghamton, Sacred Heart and Long Island University.

The Gaels’ Head Coach James Hamilton explained how he rallied his team to this winning stretch.

“We focused on the positives in our performances and cleaned up some of the details,” Hamilton

said. “Losing to La Salle was a disappointing result, but we did so many encouraging things in that game that carried over to the Vermont game.”

Hamilton also gave his insight on his expectations for this year.

“I expect a very difficult MAAC season, as it always is,” Hamilton said. “It is an old cliché but we have to take each game as it comes, continue to focus on improving every day and hopefully we can do something special.”

Two players that have really contributed offensively for the Gaels are junior forward Lenworth Lopez and sophomore forward Mauro Bravo. They have a staggering eight goals combined over the course of six games. The goal total between Lopez and Bravo is already more than they had combined through 17 games in 2018, which was seven goals.

Bravo explained how he prepared for this upcoming season.

“I started the preseason with Getafe, which is a team in the La Liga division in Spain,” Bravo said. “I have a new mentality and I worked hard so that the results and the stats end up showing, but again all the credit goes to the team that I have behind me.”

Bravo only needs one more goal to tie his 2018 season total.

Lopez scored a total of five goals in the first two years of his Iona career. He has matched that score alone through six games this season. He spoke about his offseason preparation and the type of leadership role he has portrayed this season.

“This summer I worked really hard on my weaknesses and it is starting to pay off,” Lopez said. “In general, this is the best I have felt since being here and it is all because of my coaches and teammates giving me confidence to keep playing well.”

Hamilton makes sure to push Lopez to lead the team on and off the pitch.

The team is hitting their stride at the right time with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play approaching. The unanimous expectation for the team is to win the conference and ultimately play in the NCAA tournament.

A turning point for the Gaels was against Vermont, according to Lopez and Hamilton. They executed very well on both sides of the ball during the 3-1 victory. MAAC play will kick off Saturday against Siena.