Men’s soccer wins it all in the AEC

By Pryce Jamison
November 10, 2021

Cabrini has gone four-for-four in the Atlantic East Conference championship wins on Saturday; men’s soccer had a presence in this feat that also presented the school with a 4-0 victory over Neumann University. 

It capped off the successful 13-4-2 season that the squad have been having so far as they performed well in the conference. From the beginning to the end of the regular season winning the trophy that they came up short on last time they were on that stage. Two years ago Cabrini lost to Immaculata in the AEC championship game which was definitely something that resonated with the team up to this point.

A strong defensive outing took place throughout the course of action as Cabrini scored two goals in each half during the 1:00 afternoon match. Teammate chemistry and the trust in one another is what truly seemed to set this year apart to get the talented bunch to the championship level.

Photo by Matthew Rutherford

The annual awards have also been released for AEC men’s soccer Tuesday morning as Cabrini had strong representation, filling the slots of three out of the four awards with Nick Lobiondo winning offensive player of the year, Josh Cunningham winning defensive player of the year and the coaching staff receiving the coaching staff of the year award which was led by Rob Dallas.

Cunningham, who also won tournament MVP, had some words about his role as captain this year when helping propel the guys upward through good and bad times.

“To think that at one point I was considering not attending Cabrini when on my college soccer search, to now being with the guys that I love and motivate as I find happiness in being the glue guy amongst the guys, is quite surreal,” Cunningham said. “When you’re around people you enjoy, you have more of a desire to fight for them, and as nice as individual awards may seem, none of us can truly receive those without the overall team achievements and effort.”

Going into the game, head coach, Rob Dallas, was out due to an illness, which put assistant coach, Tyler Bond, in his spot to take care of business. With all the pressure on Bond and the rest of the team, the ‘next man up’ mentality had to resonate whether it relates to players or coaches as they knew what was at stake.

Sophomore Nolan Holloway opened it up with the first goal of the day, which was eventually followed up by another score by senior Tyler Jankowski to put the Cavs up 2-0 at the half with the electric plays from the two midfielders.

Junior forward, Matt Duddy, smoothly tossed an assist over to Lobiondo for the third goal and the assists didn’t stop there as the final goal to ice the match was brought to you by senior Midfielder, Christian Rafter, off of a Cunningham assist. Sophomore goalkeeper, MJ Graham, put the exclamation mark on the victory as he had a superhuman save on a Neumann scoring attempt, which got the packed home crowd fired up.

Photo by Matthew Rutherford

Things were even getting chippy like one would expect in a championship game in which Lobiondo talked about how the team knew they had to handle scenarios logically, in which unaffordable retaliation could have occurred at any moment.

“Keeping our composure and keeping in mind how hard we worked to get to where we are in the first place was important when not lashing back, because we’re fighting for something bigger, as we’ve been uplifting and bringing the best out of one another all season through even off the field bonding and trust,” Lobiondo said.

The ceremony right after the game was a heartfelt moment for the team, as the hugs between players and the group photos of players holding the championship banner and the trophy, which made the ones watching from the crowd feel like they were a part of the family for this sentimental moment.                      

“It’s crazy how last year during my freshman year, we didn’t have a season because of the strong presence of the pandemic, but in a way that sort of helped us step back, focus on our craft as a program and find a identity to get us ready to compete at a very high level,” sophomore Kevin Davis said. “To see me now contributing to a championship team and taking it all in on a daily basis, it doesn’t take long to see how the energy that’s transferred from every single player to the other, is special.”

The Cavs will continue their efforts this Saturday as they face off against Babson College in Massachusetts as they head into the national tournament. As happy as the team is after such a big win, they all seem to carry the tone that there is more soccer to be played and that they can’t get too comfortable now. Stay tuned as this group of guys prepare to continue to take Cabrini Men’s Soccer to new heights.

Pryce Jamison

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