Men’s Soccer Already Turning the Corne

By Kevin Lewis

The young athlete had a bright future ahead of him as a soccer player.

Then Chris Smith’s knee unfortunately could no longer tolerate the grind of competitive soccer, and he had to give up playing the game that he loved.

“I injured my knee and was forced to retire from playing competitively,” said Smith. “I wanted to stay in the game and start a career and that’s how I got started in coaching.”

On March 3, 2010, Smith was named the Head Coach of the Men’s Soccer Team. Smith, 37, graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration/Marketing and a Master’s in Athletic Administration.

Smith’s many years of experience make him a suitable candidate for the job as he has been through the trials and tribulations that these current players face. Smith is not only consumed with winning, however. He has many expectations he wants his team to meet on and off the field alike.

“I expect a lot from the team,” said Smith. “I want to change the culture around the team. I want to improve grade point averages, goals against average, competitiveness in training, and ultimately improve the record of 4-26-1 over the past two seasons,”

When starting out as a coach of a new program, it is essential to make your mark and set a foundation for the team to follow. Whether it’s the gameplan on the field, or work ethic it is important for the coach to leave his fingerprints on the team.

“My coaching philosophy is fairly simple,” said Smith. “I just want the team to win and to improve. We are trying to compete and my ultimate goal for this team to make the ECC tournament with a chance to participate in the NCAA tournament,”

In order for that to happen, the team needs to embody certain characteristics the coach demands from his players, and obviously win a lot of games.

“I ask for my players to give everything they have with the philosophy of doing the right thing,” said Smith. “Organization, discipline, commitment, and execution in the most critical times of a game are the aspects of the game that are most conducive to winning.”

Does Smith put any more stock into certain games, such as rivalry tilts, than others?

“They are all equally important, with extra emphasis on the conference games since those mean a little bit more in the standings,” said Smith.

The ultimate goal is to win, and Smith sees the big picture in that regard.

“My coaching philosophy is simple. I want to work harder than everyone else and win.”

He has already surpassed the total wins from the last two seasons, and after winning two games in a row, is now at 6-6-2. After a three game drought where the team only scored one goal, Mercy won 4-1 over Lock Haven and 2-1 over C.W. Post.

Junior forward Alex Cruz was named the ECC offensive player of the week after he scored both goals against C.W. Post in the Mercy thrilling double overtime victory. It was his fourth goal of season, and second game winner.