Rams Enter Spring Season Trusting the Process


Men’s Soccer is looking forward to starting the season on a positive note. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

After having its season delayed for over six months amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, Fordham Men’s Soccer now embarks on an unprecedented spring season with ambitious expectations among those competing for an Atlantic 10 Championship.

When the A-10 announced last summer that all fall sport competitions and championships would be postponed in favor of playing fall sports during the 2021 spring semester, head coach Carlo Acquista decided to put the newly-given extra time to adequate use. 

Acquista worked on different projects with the players, focused on player development, tactical strategy and, more importantly, built up team culture. “To be fair, it gave me, my staff and the team a little bit more time to get to know each other as a new head coach,” said Acquista. “Of course I wanted to play from day one, but I also understood that it gave me time to prepare my group, get to know my group and be even more prepared.”

The second-year head coach is looking to build on a debut season which saw Fordham finish 7-10-3 overall and come within a penalty kick shootout of advancing to the A-10 Championship match in their heartbreaking semifinal loss to the University of Rhode Island. Eight players graduated from that 2019 squad, most notably the team’s co-captains, Joergen Oland and Bart Dziedzic. 

Oland earned the A-10’s Defensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive season on the way to cementing his place among the most decorated players in program history. The Rams also lost an experienced midfielder in Dziedzic, who appeared in 70 games and made 41 starts over the course of four years at Rose Hill. The departure of goalkeeper Konstantin Weis also leaves a crucial position open this season after Weis ended 2019 by earning a spot on the A-10 All-Championship Team. Weis now joins Acquista’s staff this season as a volunteer goalkeeper coach and performance analyst.

However, Acquista believes his team is well-equipped to replace the leadership and contributions that the aforementioned players brought to the program. Returning players like seniors Sameer Fathazada and Jacob Bohm will be looked upon to provide veteran leadership and impact every game this season. Fathazada made 18 starts in 19 games for the Rams last season, ranking third on the team in scoring with seven goals. Bohm appeared in 20 games last season and was a freshman on the 2017 team that made it all the way to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals.

Newcomers to the group such as graduate transfer students Josh Levine and Matt Sloan also bring ample experience of their own which Acquista is confident will provide immediate contributions on the field. Levine, the Penn State University transfer, appeared in 32 games for the Nittany Lions over three seasons and earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Tournament team in 2017. As for Sloan, he appeared in 46 games over three seasons at American University and comes in with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Playing matches in the spring is not completely foreign to college soccer programs, something Acquista thinks plays a huge factor in helping his players adapt throughout the season. Ultimately, Acquista understands his most important job is to reiterate all health and safety protocols in order to complete a full season. The A-10 preseason poll has predicted Fordham to finish fifth this season, but the Rams are motivated to capture their fourth conference tournament championship in program history.

When discussing Fordham’s realistic expectations for the year, Acquista thought back to what his former athletic director at Adelphi University used to tell him, recalling, “Trust the process. Follow your process. It’s a process and you will get there.”

The upcoming spring season features 14 regular season matches, including notable non-conference road matchups against St. John’s University (Feb. 17) and Seton Hall University (Feb. 24) before conference play begins in March. There will be six conference matches before the A-10 Championship takes place between Apr. 15-17 with only four teams eligible to qualify in this year’s tournament as opposed to the traditional eight-team format. Fordham officially kicks off its season this Saturday at 2 p.m. when the Rams welcome Fairleigh Dickinson University to Jack Coffey Field.