Meet Jose Silva, the major reason behind Merrimack’s recent soccer success.
The best goaltender in Merrimack history still plies his trade between the pipes.
Jose Silva, a 6’0” 163-pound senior, will finish this season as the school’s career leader in shutouts. He’ll hold the record for lowest career goals allowed, and could set the career record for wins after playing just three seasons. He’s also earned two first-team Northeast-10 selections, received the goaltender of the year award for the NE-10 in each of the past two seasons, and made the 2012 Division II NSCAA All-American team.
Silva’s sees success because of his disregard for personal safety. Witness the footage from Merrimack’s post-game interview after defeating St. Michaels, where he dismisses the bandage covering most of his nose. After all, why should blood and a swollen nose keep the goalie out of the action?
Silva also has mastered the tempo of the game. He disrupts the timing of opponents, meaning his moves counter opposing strategies. Plus, his teammates trust Silva’s saving ability, knowing he can bail them out if an errant pass kickstarts an opponent’s attack.
His head coach believes Silva’s confidence buoys the team. In an interview with Merrimack Athletics, Coach Tony Martone discussed Silva’s play as a confidence-booster for the Warriors. He believed Silva made the other players feel relaxed, since the keeper could solve every mistake.
With his natural ability, it seems like Silva grew up with the position. However, the Warrior’s leading keeper accidentally found his future.
In an interview with Merrimack Athletics, Silva discussed his arrival in the net. The Brazil native said he had already spent a few years in the United States, playing soccer as a striker after moving to Massachusetts with his family. However, an ankle injury took him off the pitch for an entire season.
Fortunately, Silva ignored the doctor’s warnings. He played with friends as a goalkeeper, making saves in non-competitive situations. When the head coach saw one session, he asked Silva to stay in the net.
Within five years, Silva had both earned a starting spot as the goalkeeper for the U-18 squad of the New England Revolution and led his high school conference in shutouts. However, Silva would abandon his new home in his senior year, when a glut of goaltending talent forced him to the midfield.
What could Silva possibly gain by moving from his now-default position?
Through his 17 goals, he helped Algonquin Regional High School to a birth in the state semi-finals and earned a Massachusetts All-State selection. He would leave with a career record of 63-9-10. Merrimack, however, wouldn’t need Silva as a midfielder. They needed a new goalkeeper.
Their choice led to the beginning of the best period in Merrimack’s soccer history.
With Silva as the cornerstone, the team has formed an unbreakable defensive unit. They’ve made two separate runs to the Northeast-10 conference championship and made their first NCAA tournament appearance in 2012. This year’s team returns most of last year’s starters, as the Warriors only lost three players to graduation.
However, one opponent still looms large.
Southern New Hampshire has dominated Merrimack in postseason play. The Penmen have won the last three postseason battles, all by one goal. After a National Championship, Southern New Hampshire will look to repeat as the best in Division II.
For the man between the pipes, it’s just another challenge. Defeat Southern New Hampshire, and Silva will be the goalie who led Merrimack to their first NE-10 tournament championship.
Win the NE-10, and Silva cements himself as the best goalie in Merrimack history.