It was a daunting task laden with emotion.
But University of Maine men’s soccer coach Pat Laughlin and assistant Trevor Singer were able to find new colleges for their players in the aftermath of the program being suspended by the university due to budgetary constraints.
Twenty-one players on last fall’s roster were eligible to return and there were nine incoming recruits as Laughlin continued a rebuilding process at his alma mater.
The Bears went 5-10-2 last fall, the most wins since 2004.
Then he learned the program, along with the women’s volleyball team, had been eliminated by the institution.
“We have, pretty much, found a spot for all of the players. In some cases, the players have narrowed it down to a few schools,” said the 39-year-old Laughlin.
“For Trevor and me, there was so much emotion attached to trying to do this,” said Laughlin. “But we made it an immediate priority to find these guys opportunities. It was our responsibility. The players wanted to be here but since they didn’t have that option, we wanted to find them a viable alternative.”
He said he and Singer fielded phone calls and emails from 75-100 different colleges at all levels inquiring about their players.
“We had calls from every big program in the country,” said Laughlin.
Two of his players will attend schools that contended for the NCAA championship last fall.
Back Daniel Tannous will attend the University of North Carolina, which lost in the NCAA title game to Maryland 1-0, and goalkeeper Nemanja Kostic will head to Indiana University, which lost in the NCAA quarterfinals to St. John’s 3-2 in overtime.
Tannous will be a sophomore and Kostic will be a senior.
Striker Ross Seagram, who was a freshman last fall, will take his talents to the University of Wisconsin and midfielder Nikola Bogdanovic, who transferred to Maine from Oral Roberts, will return to Oral Roberts where he will be a senior.
There would have been six Maine natives on the team next fall.
Belfast back Yates Murphy, who was a freshman redshirt last fall, will attend Southern Connecticut State; Gorham midfielder Phil Reed will be a senior and intends to return to Maine to finish up his degree; Brunswick goalkeeper Alex Pilitsis and Falmouth back Sam Alpert, who were freshmen, are “both in the final stages in deciding between two schools,” according to Laughlin, and incoming freshmen Jordon Meyers from Eddington and Scarborough goalkeeper Adam Blanchard are going to Maine and the University of Rhode Island, respectively.
“I’m really excited about going to Southern Connecticut,” said Murphy. “They have a strong tradition of winning and a good coach [Tom Lang]. They struggled a little bit last year [6-7-5] but they’re looking to bring in some good players. And the school is similar in size to Maine.”
Southern Connecticut State has won six NCAA Division II championships.
Laughlin explained that Meyers intends to study engineering at Maine and has a good academic scholarship package and speculated that the University of Rhode Island “will work out well for [Blanchard].”
Laughlin and Singer have yet to plot out their futures.
Laughlin said Singer may pursue a master’s degree and coach while he wants to continue coaching at the college level.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I want to go somewhere the university believes that soccer is important and that the soccer program is supported and is a viable program,” said Laughlin.
“I owe a lot to the University of Maine. Without my experience at Maine playing under Jim Dyer, I don’t know if I’d be coaching,” said Laughlin whose contract finishes at the end of the month.
Ian Leisenheimer honored
University of Maine freshman designated hitter Ian Leisenheimer was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
He is the fourth Black Bear to be honored in the last five years.
Leisenheimer, who was named to the America East All-Rookie Team, hit .356 with five homers and a team-high 41 runs batted in. He had a .500 slugging percentage and a .414 on-base percentage.