JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 3, 2009) - Since coming to ETSU in 2007, Buccaneer men's soccer head coach Scott Calabrese had a vision to create a program that would be one of the best in the Atlantic Sun and would compete on a national level.
In only the program's second year, the Buccaneers have already clinched an A-Sun tournament berth and will host the school's first ever tournament match on Saturday at 2 p.m.
"Overall the program has made great strides from its inception," Calabrese said. "We made incredible strides in the spring to get the program where we are now. We spent a lot of time with the SPEC program and our guys are physically fit to compete at a high level. You can see how this team is putting the work in. Their work in the spring and summer has really gotten them to where they are now. The guys really have bought into the goal of elevating this program to the top of the conference."
The men's soccer team had four goals coming into the season: to play a tougher schedule and compete against those teams, to finish the season with a winning record, to finish in the top six of the conference and to bring in a new and effective style of play.
"In terms of those four goals which we established three years ago we are still on track to meet them all," Calabrese said. "You have to give credit to the players because they believe in the goals and they worked hard to achieve them."
The Bucs faced a tough non-conference schedule in 2009 going on the road to ACC opponents Virginia Tech and North Carolina. ETSU got a 1-1 draw against the Hokies, and had the second ranked Tar Heels on the ropes as the Bucs fell 2-1 in overtime as they proved they could play with anyone in the country.
Currently the Bucs are 5-8-3 overall and 4-4-1 in conference and are still on track to achieve their second goal of finishing the season with a winning record if they can win the conference tournament. By earning the third seed in the conference tournament the Buccaneers have given themselves a good chance to make the conference finals as they face Lipscomb at home with the chance to play in the conference semifinals against Stetson with a win on Saturday.
"I think making the conference tournament is exciting," Calabrese added. "But these guys have loftier goals than just to be in the conference tournament. Having played against all of the teams in the conference they believe they can beat anyone in the A-Sun. It's nice to have made it, but we want to see if we can go all the way to the NCAA tournament."
Lately the Bucs have been hitting their stride at the right time having won four of their last four matches coming into the weekend. This success is in part due to the final goal of bringing a new and effective attacking style of play in 2009. The Bucs have had troubles early in the season in finishing chances and winning games they had dominated, but in the last six games the system has seemed to have turned the corner as ETSU has averaged 1.7 goals, posting three goals in three home matches.
"It was a process early on as a team because we had brought in new players and the style of play had changed completely from last year," Calabrese said. "We have been able to switch from a defensive and counterattacking style to a team that attacks more and holds possession. We are starting to find that playing in this new style we are getting results even though early in the season we would dominate games and not get the result we deserved."
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