The Husson University men’s soccer team has had a dramatic turnaround this season and three newcomers who grew up within 30 miles of the campus have played important roles.
Husson was 3-13 a year ago, 2-5 in the North Atlantic Conference, and the Eagles missed the conference playoffs.
They are 12-6-1, 9-1 against conference opponents and are the top seed entering Saturday’s NAC championship game against Castleton State (Vt.).
Freshman striker Phil Frost, an All-American at Bangor High a year ago when he scored 26 goals to lead the Rams to the state Class A title, is Husson’s leading scorer with 14 goals and five assists. Ellsworth’s Zack Emeigh has contributed five goals and a team-high nine assists from his left wing slot and his former Ellsworth teammate, Andrew Austin, has a goal and seven assists.
Austin’s long flip throw-ins have led to 12 goals, according to Husson coach Jeff Gettler.
“Phil is a late developer because he played hockey in high school and didn’t play much club soccer,” said Gettler. “His best soccer is way ahead of him. We’ve been able to see tremendous improvement just since August because he’s coachable and we’ve got him immersed in a soccer environment. We’ve got him watching good teams and good players on video and reading articles about soccer.”
Frost has been very good, Gettler added.
“He can score with both feet and his head and can play with his back to the goal,” Gettler said.
Austin, also a freshman, has made the adjustment from right back to center midfielder.
“He wins balls, he wins them in the air, he’s a good passer and he has the long throw,” said Gettler. “He keeps the ball on the floor a lot and wins a lot of balls for us.”
Emeigh, according to Gettler, leads the conference in assists.
“He assisted on all four of our goals in our (quarterfinal) win (4-2) over Lyndon State,” said Gettler. “He has really come on lately. He has started to come into his own. He didn’t want to defend too much when he came here, but now he defends like crazy.”
Emeigh is a sophomore transfer from Dean Junior College (Mass.).
The three players said there is a definite adjustment to college soccer and they are getting more comfortable with it.
“It’s definitely a lot quicker and a lot more physical than high school,” said Frost. “I’m definitely happy with my progress.”
“It has been awesome. The upperclassmen have really helped me transfer over,” added Frost, who said that the four strikers have been “combining” very effectively. He was referring to Emeigh and veterans Tyler Metevier and Greg Dawson. Dawson has eight goals and three assists and Metevier has 5 & 1.
Austin said his flip-throws have worked out “pretty well because we have a lot of tall guys who can finish.”
“I’ve been pretty satisfied with my performance, but I can still improve,” said Austin. “It has been a big adjustment, but it has been a good change.”
Austin said it’s nice to be reunited with his former Ellsworth High teammate.
Emeigh agreed and also pointed out that he spent a couple of years playing club soccer with Frost.
Emeigh said even though he played college soccer a year ago, it is a significant jump from community college soccer to Division III.
“We only had a couple of real competitive games,” said Emeigh. “It has taken me awhile to adjust, but I’m finally back playing the way I can. It’s nice to be back.”
HOCKEY EAST ON NBC/VERSUS
Hockey East has signed a multi-year deal with NBC Sports Network, which will air Hockey East games live, including this season’s semifinal and championship games from the TD Garden in Boston.
The network is currently known as VERSUS, but it will change over on Jan. 2.
The first game will be a Boston University-Notre Dame game on Dec. 31. Boston College will visit Vermont on Feb. 10 and BU will invade UVM on Feb. 24. It will also air a quarterfinal game on March 9.
The games are part of a 16-game college hockey schedule.
The college hockey broadcasts will be produced by the Emmy Award-winning team that airs NHL games.
This doesn’t mean the New England Sports Network is ending its longtime affiliation with the league, according to Pete Souris, the assistant commissioner for public relations at Hockey East.
“Nothing is in place with NESN now, but we’re waiting to finalize a deal (with NESN) in the near future,” said Souris who indicated other regional providers won’t be significantly impacted either.
In a press release, Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said, “The landscape in college hockey is about to go through a significant change. Television will become even more important to all programs with national aspirations and national television will become a key to future success. This agreement will play a major role in our ability to stay in a leadership position in our sport.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said, “It’s important for our league to get as much air time as we can so we can expand our exposure. This is a great development and, hopefully, things will also fall into place with NESN.”
The Big Ten Conference will have a hockey league beginning 2013-2014, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference will also begin play and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association will cease to exist.
Notre Dame will join Hockey East in 2013-2014.