BR-117 UMass-Lowell men's soccer is in the middle of a huge turnaround. Sitting at a perfect 5-0 through the first two weeks of the D1 Men's Soccer schedule, the River Hawks have almost matched their win-total from a year ago. They still have four games on their ledger before America East play, and if they win all four they will guarantee the first winning season since 2012.
So far this season, the River Hawks have knocked off BR-134 Northeastern 2-1, BR-90 Monmouth 3-0, BR-170 Seton Hall 1-0 (OT), St. Francis Brooklyn 2-1 (OT) and BR-176 Quinnipiac 2-1. Two of those games went into overtime, so UMass-Lowell is getting experience in tough game situations, as well.
"We showed a lot of energy in the overtimes and there's a lot of credit to give to the guys for that. They know it and they deserve that win," head coach Christian Figueroa said in an interview after the St. Francis Brooklyn match. "We have to make sure we're staying focused. We have to take care of our bodies and make sure that we're mentally strong for the next session."
Coach Figueroa captured his 50th career win in that game, and currently sits at 51-46-5. The team hasn't had a winning record since the 2012 season, when it competed at the D2 level in the Northeast-10 Conference. They're only four wins away from breaking the trend.
With a 10-3 goal differential, it seems like UMass-Lowell is on their way.
Wuilito Fernandes leads the offensive charge for the Red Hawks. He has racked up five goals on 11 shots with seven on-goal and three game-winners. Redshirt freshman Ivan Abramovic isn't far behind with three goals, four assists and two game-winners while Carlos Ruiz and Ben Waithe have each contributed with one goal apiece.
Fernandes is in his senior season and is a fan favorite at UMass-Lowell. In fact, the Cape Verde native was nominated for the America East Fan's Choice Player of the Year in 2015. He's totaled 19 goals and 5 assists in his four years on the pitch.
Austin Kroll has been the mainstay between the posts this season, recording 12 saves on 48 shots faced. He's posted two shutouts and allowed just three scores, for a goals against percentage of 0.57. Kroll is a former America East Co-Rookie of the Year who has started 35 games over three seasons for the River Hawks. He has 139 saves to his credit for his career with a 1.18 goals against average and a .768 save percentage. His 20 career wins rank fourth in program history.
Next up on the schedule is a home showdown with Brown on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The River Hawks kick off America East play on Oct. 1 against Binghamton.