End of the run

Core set to graduate after playoff defeat

This year, men’s soccer was unable to build on last season’s success.

In 2012, the Gaels finished first in the OUA East and made a run to the Final Four. This season, they finished fourth in their division and fell in extra time to the Carleton Ravens in the OUA East semi-finals.

Head coach Chris Gencarelli said the team’s struggle to meet expectations impacted the early part of their season, until the team found their game later in the year.

“We weren’t getting the results we desired, which I think caused some of the players to play with a lack of confidence or play too timid,” he said. “I thought close to the end of the season we were hitting our stride and players were starting to realize their potential.”

Several of the team’s top players will be graduating, including captain Joe Zupo, goalkeeper Dylan Maxwell, defender David Tom and striker Lucas Lobo.

Gencarelli said that while the graduating players were key members of the squad, he thinks younger players will step up next year.

“We have a young core of players that can absolutely step up to the plate next year,” he said. “It’s not about replacing [the graduating players], it’s about the younger players finding their own identity and placing their own identity on the program.”

While the team didn’t win the title, Gencarelli said he was still proud of their performance, and the growth of the younger players, including rookies Tonko Bacelic and Rohan Sarna, as well as second-year midfielder Andrew Martin.

“They’re going to be instrumental to our success moving forward,” Gencarelli said.

The Gaels’ leadership core will undergo a shift next season with the graduation of Zupo, the captain for the last three seasons. After four years with the Gaels, he’s set his sights on the next challenge — a possible pro career overseas.

Zupo was named to the OUA East All-Star Team for the fourth year in a row. Four other Gaels — Maxwell, Tom, midfielder Henry Bloemen and striker Tommy Hong — were named second-team All-Stars.

Maxwell, a fourth year, will vacate the starting keeper position he’s held for three years.

Zupo said Maxwell was a major part of the team during recent seasons.

“He’s been our team MVP two years running,” Zupo said.

Heading into next year, Zupo said defender Ben Fenech will take on a larger role with the Gaels, after spending three years playing behind him on Queen’s backend.

“He’s going to come out of that third-choice shell and really embrace the fact that he’s going to be playing a lot more,” Zupo said.

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