Graduate student Jake Scully capped off his collegiate career by winning Atlantic East Defensive Player of the Year. Scully, a senior who plays center back for the men’s soccer team helped lead the Cavaliers to second place in the Atlantic East Conference.
Scully was a defensive presence, usually playing all 90 minutes of the game. However, he also helped his team offensively with one goal and one assist this season.
His fellow center back Dom Petruzzelli said, “Scully is arguably the best defender I’ve ever played alongside. His passion for every single 50/50 ball, every tackle, every clearance is what makes him the leader of our back line. Whenever someone makes a game-changing play, Scully will always be the first to scream in excitement, you can truly feel the energy that he brings to our team. It’s what sets him apart from the rest of the conference and why he’s earned the DPOY award.”
This award has been Scully’s first major recognition since joining the Cavaliers five years ago. He consistently played an important role in the team’s past success, helping them win a conference title in 2021. “When I saw that I won Defensive Player of the Year for this fall, all the coaches in the conferences finally recognized everything I worked for at Cabrini. It means a lot to see that all the hours on the field and energy spent in the off-season was worth it,” Scully said.
Playing for his dad
Scully’s dad died unexpectedly in late 2022. He recalled, “Losing a family member at a time right around the soccer season brings a lot of emotions to anyone, but it gave me a lot of reasons to go out and play and make him proud. Winning this award after losing my dad was a way for me to show him that everything he taught me and gave me was never forgotten and will always be appreciated. He continues to motivate me every day on and off the field and I always try to make him proud every day in some way.”
The importance of family
Family holds the biggest motivation for Scully. He said both his on-field Cabrini family and his off-the-field family inspire him to be the best he can be.
“This past year there was so much off-the-field stuff that I was going through, and all my teammates were going through as well that lead up to this season,” Scully said. “The biggest motivation for me was my Cabrini family and my real family. Being able to share one last season of moments and memories with them was the reason I played my hardest every time I stepped on the field.”
Coming back for more
Last year, the men’s soccer team fell short of reaching the conference final. Scully, who is in his fifth year of eligibility, decided to return for his final year of soccer. “I decided to come back for my fifth year because I wasn’t ready to give up the sport I love most and have played for my whole life. I knew I had a lot more to give to the soccer program and the university,” he said. “Also, it being the last ever Cabrini men’s soccer season made it only easier to make my decision because I knew all of my other teammates would play at 100 percent.”
A defensive legacy
Cabrini has a notoriously strong backline. The Atlantic East Conference has been around for five years. In those five years, Cabrini men’s soccer garnered three Defensive Player of the Year awards. Andre Justin won in 2019, followed by Josh Cunningham in 2021. Scully got the opportunity to learn from both while playing alongside them.
“Playing on the back line my whole life, and especially my four years at Cabrini was a privilege. Coming in as a freshman and getting to play right away next to seniors who spent their four years at Cabrini taught me so much about pride and what it takes to be successful,” he said. “Throughout my time here I was able to be successful while also sharing what I learned with defenders who came in under me. Leading up to this year, the back line I played with this year is a massive part of the reason I was able to be so successful this year.”
Despite not winning a conference title this year, Scully and the rest of the men’s soccer team had a season to be proud of. “We all played with heart every game and that’s all I asked of them every time that whistle blew and I can’t thank them enough for making this season one to remember,” he said.