Men’s soccer: 2016 season preview

A long losing streak overshadows the team’s minimal successes during a bumpy year.

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Men’s soccer: 2016 season preview

The men's soccer team are looking for a rebound year after winning only three games in the past two seasons. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

The men's soccer team are looking for a rebound year after winning only three games in the past two seasons. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

The men's soccer team are looking for a rebound year after winning only three games in the past two seasons. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

The men's soccer team are looking for a rebound year after winning only three games in the past two seasons. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

Ryan Lynch, Editor in Chief

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How they finished:

2-12-2, missed Conference USA Tournament

Struggling on both sides of the ball:

After the Owls only had one win in 2014, the problems that crippled the team returned and hung around for most of the following year.

Offensively, men’s soccer head coach Kos Donev didn’t have a player step into a role as a consistent scorer. Seniors Elijah McDonald, Ramon Whitaker and Thomas Gallitz were the only players to score multiple goals this season, putting away two, two and three goals respectively.

Out of 202 Division I teams, Florida Atlantic finished 196th in scoring offense, with .60 goals averaged per game and scored nine goals over the season. Seven of those goals came from the previously mentioned trio of McDonald, Whitaker and Gallitz.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Owls finished 186th in goals against average with a mark of 2.07 given up per game. That combination of stats combines to paint a picture as to why the team was only able to win two games.

One long losing streak:

Dating back to 2014, the Owls had only three wins in 31 total games. After FAU’s Oct. 10, 2015 win over Marshall, the team lost momentum and went 20 games without a victory.

With only two wins last year, this marks the third time in four seasons Donev’s team has finished a season with a pair of wins or less.

During last year, the Owls had a few close games slip away in overtime, recording two losses, two ties and only one win. That victory in extra time broke their losing streak and came against Marshall more than a year after FAU’s last win.

Conference woes:

The Owls’ losing ways have especially affected their conference record, which affects FAU’s entry into the Conference USA postseason tournament. In their first three years in C-USA, the team has gone 3-20-2, while missing the tournament in all three seasons.

Regardless of how Donov’s team performs in its eight out-of-conference games, a strong performance against its conference peers will be the benchmark of success to see if the Owls are able to rise above their problems.

What’s next:

At the front of their formation, the Owls will have to address a lack of experienced goalscorers to lean on. Rising senior forward Jason Fitzgerald has four career goals, but did not score during last season.

Sophomore Finn Crozier struggled to find the net in his first season of college soccer, which leaves the question of his chances at a recovery season in his second year.

Despite the loss of graduates Whittaker and Patrick Darby, the midfield looks like the strongest area for FAU. Returning senior Gallitz will be back to lead the unit, while Aaron Laranetto and Douglas Landvik will be leaned on heavily as the most experienced sophomores in the group.

Seniors Phillip Hitpass and Josh Nolan will compete for the starting goalkeeper spot after splitting time last year at the position. Hitpass edged out Nolan in goals against average (1.61 to 2.38) and finished the season as starter, but it seems that the two will share the position until one stands out.

On paper, the Owls look untested as a whole. To say they won’t have more success is a reach, but if they fail to score often again this year it will be a long season in Boca Raton.

The men’s soccer team kicks off the year versus Lipscomb in Nashville, Tennessee on Aug. 26. To view its schedule, click here.

Ryan Lynch is the editor in chief of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @RyanLynchwriter.