Under head coach Andy Fleming, BR-12 Xavier has been known for its defense. In all five full seasons he has coached, the Muskateers have averaged allowing 1 goal or less per game. They also happen to be the best five defensive seasons in school history—he owns them all.
Yet, over the weekend, his team pumped out 10 goals in two games—a total which leads the nation after the opening weekend. And he had 7 players do the scoring—that’s even better. Not bad for a team that lost its best scorer from a year ago.
Oh, and as usual they had shutouts, too—including one in a win over Wisconsin, the same team that handled them their worst defeat in 2014.
“I signed a contract on Friday and that night we were walking out to kickoff and there were 150 people waiting in line for tickets,” Fleming told HERO Sports. “We’re nationally ranked, and then we go on to win 8-0 (over Eastern Illinois). There was a lot to reflect on over the weekend.”
That long-term contract for Fleming must have been good luck for the team. It was the news of a 4-year contract through 2018 that immediately drew text messages on his phone—mostly from recruits’ parents congratulating him on the good news.
Though the 8-0 win over Eastern Illinois was impressive—it did take awhile to get rolling. Amazingly, it was only 1-0 at the half—but a 5-goal barrage in a 9-minute span early in the second half gave a glimpse into what is possible with the program when it is on track. Then, the 2-0 win over Wisconsin was sweet because it’s the same weekend a year ago when 9 freshmen were welcomed to Division I soccer with a 4-0 spanking. In one year, it was a 6-goal turnaround. Matt Vasquenza led the weekend charge offensively with 2 goals and 1 assist.
“The funny thing is, and I hate to say it, but I don’t think consistently we played as well as we could,” Fleming said. “I think only 3 or 4 people had good weekends and we have to play better collectively. I don’t know if we’ll be a national championship level team, but that’s the thing—I know we can get a lot better.
And with that many sophomores playing key roles—like defender Matt Nance who got Big East Defensive Player of the Week—where could this be heading?
“I think we could be pretty good,” Fleming said. “Of course our own conference might have something to say about that. The Big East gets you ready for the NCAA tournament. I think it gets you to the point where you’re not afraid to play anybody, really. We’re good enough to beat anybody in the country, but we’re not so good we can’t lose to anybody too. We just have to make sure not to get too high or too low.”