The College at Florham men’s soccer team has seen great goal keeping, defense and a monster season by senior Ryan Hurdes this year.
Hurdes has 18 goals on the season, which is good for third in Division III soccer and fourth all time on FDU’s all time record list.
“I don’t really look at stats fully,” Hurdes said. “I look at winning as a team, so that’s more important to me.”
Hurdes kicked off the season with a slow start, but he gained momentum after a two-goal performance against St. Joseph’s College (Long Island).
Hurdes went on to have 15 goals during a span of nine games.
Hurdes said, “The first two games against Ramapo and Berkeley I didn’t score.”
He went on to say, “My mind was racing all the time thinking I’m not going to score and my coaches told me to keep my head up, the goals will eventually come. Lucky enough, during the St. Joseph’s tournament they came and I just went on a little run.”
On Oct. 5 against King’s College, Hurdes was able to mark off another achievement for the 2013 campaign when he registered a hat trick during FDU’s 3-2 win.
“It came at a pretty big time because it was against one of the best teams in the conference,” Hurdes said. “It came at a crucial timewith conference play just beginning.”
The men’s soccer team was on a three-game winning streak before losing to Misericordia, 2-1, at home on Oct. 26.
Freshman goal keeper Nick Mihalik has been impressive in net for the Devils, registering two shutouts during the recent win streak.
Hurdes was able to punch in three goals during four games and freshman Chaz Armand has begun to show a glimpse of what he can bring to the table.
Recruitment of strong players has given the Devils a boost this season.
Head Coach Tom McLoughlin has been able to land some prize recruits, including the several freshmen who are in the starting lineup.
“Each year we’ve recruited a little better,” senior Brent Hasko said. “Right now FDU is turning into a program.”
In 2011, the Devils went 5-13-1 for the season and failed to make the postseason. They were not taken seriously through Division III and other teams considered the games winnable.
“Usually we have to win out just to make it to the playoffs, but this year is the first time we control our own destiny,” Hasko said. “We’ve never had home field advantage since I’ve been here.”
Last season was the beginning of the turnaround. FDU won the last three Freedom Conference games to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
The Devils won the opening game against Manhattanville College, but lost in the championship game to Misericordia to end their season.
“Our best players are gone from last season and we have so many new freshmen now,” Hurdes said. “It’s kind of like they have to get their own experience now. From our standpoint, it was good for us.”
On Nov. 2, during the Devils’ final game of the regular season, they were shut out by the first place Eastern Eagles. With the loss, FDU finished in fourth place in the Freedom Conference.
At press time, the Devils were scheduled to square off with Eastern University once again in the opening round of the playoffs. That game was slated for Wednesday.