La Plata, MD- The College of Southern Maryland men’s soccer team finished the 2019 season with a 6-9-1 record overall. They went 3-8 in Maryland JUCO conference games and 5-9 in Region XX contests. They finished 11th in the Maryland JUCO standings and eighth in the Region XX standings.
These are dramatic improvements from a year ago when CSM finished with a 1-10 record and only scored five goals all season. This year, CSM registered five or more goals in five games.
In total, the Hawks scored 48 times this season, fourth-most among Region XX Division II schools and fifth among Maryland JUCO schools.
Eleven of those goals came in the first month of the season when the Hawks went 2-0-1. They also capped off the year with an offensive explosion when they beat Potomac State College of WVU 9-1 and shutout Allegany College of Maryland 10-0.
However, the middle of the season was not as kind to the Hawks. They lost nine of 11 games and scored 19 goals during that stretch.
CSM head coach Zach Bowman said experiencing those highs and lows throughout the season was tough. “It’s really tough seeing the guys try to execute things the right way and just not get the result. It’s something that you can’t really get down on them because they’re on the right path, they’re doing the right things, just the results quite aren’t there yet. I just tried to reiterate to them, just to keep doing the things we’re asking, they’re going to pay dividends in the long run, and the last few results of the season I think you saw that.”
Several Hawks had noteworthy statistical seasons. Freshman Logan Miller was the leading scorer for CSM. He led the team in goals with 10 and points with 22. Those numbers put him tied for ninth and tied for 12th in Maryland JUCO, respectively. Freshman Gabriel Ichniowski had the second-most goals on the team with eight, tied for 15th in the conference. He and freshman Justin Miller tied for second on the team and 17th in the conference in points with 20. Justin Miller led CSM in assists with 10, putting him second among Maryland JUCO players in that category. He also took the second-most shots of any Maryland JUCO player this season with 60.
Freshman goalkeeper Jared-Lee Pixton ranked second in Maryland JUCO in saves with 125. He was eighth in the conference in save percentage at 74 percent.
CSM ranked fourth among Region XX Division II schools and fifth among Maryland JUCO schools in goals with their 48. They tied for fourth in Region XX DII in assists with 28, and they were first in Maryland JUCO and Region XX DII in shot percentage at 32.2 percent.
“I think the biggest thing that I’m proud of is they were able to finally sort out the team shape both on defense and offense,” Bowman said. “It’s something that’s kind of hard to do. You get a lot of guys from different areas, different ideas, different tactics, and to mold them into one thing is kind of difficult. The last two, three weeks, they kind of figured it out, they were able to really mold into it, and that’s probably the one thing I’m most impressed with all the guys.”
Bowman said some of the most important lessons he took from his first year as head coach were in patience and recruiting.
“There are highs and lows for the guys, there are also highs and lows for the coaching staff,” Bowman said. “It’s one of those things, just being patient and sticking to my own words and keeping to the path that I’m asking them to do. That’s the biggest thing I probably learned this year, is stay true to what you want to do and the results will come in the long run.”
As for recruiting, “It’s one of the big things we have to do a better job of,” Bowman said. “We were supposed to have a decent number of guys come in, ended up not having a whole bunch, so numbers were low at different points of the season. I think recruiting is a big thing that myself and coach Gary and coach Hunter definitely have to take away and learn from and do a little bit better job of.”
With an eye already toward next season, Bowman said he wants his players to focus on their speed and strength during the offseason.
“The guys should be on the ball all day,” Bowman said. “They should be getting technically better no matter what. They should be playing as much as they can. One of our big things is being physically strong and being a little bit faster. I think those are the two attributes that they can work on right now in the winter. And then when we get back together in the springtime, we’ll be able to focus a little more on the soccer side of things.”
To sum up this season, though, Bowman said “This season was a bit of a grind. A lot of tough competition this year. A lot of games that were close, one-goal games, a lot of battles. A lot of stuff that guys had to push through. Some overtimes, hard-fought 90-minute games. It was a big test for those younger guys to kind of get the idea of what college soccer is about. As the season went on, they were able to start grasping it a little more. Overall, I think if I had to put one word, it was a grind for the whole season.”