European soccer stars dominate scoresheet for Griffins

Freshman forward Henrik Berg prepares to kick the ball during Seton Hill University’s game against Shepherd University on Sept. 7, which SHU won 5-0. Berg, originally from Åsa, Sweden, leads the team with 22 points, as of Oct. 11. Photo by D.Clark/Setonian.

The European flair on the men’s soccer team has impacted the scoresheet greatly this season with some old faces and some new. The men are off to a start that they did not quite expect according to head coach Dan McCarty, but the Griffins are driven to improve through the rest of the season.

Out of the 31 players on the roster, there are a total of 12 Europeans on the team from the countries of England, Wales, Sweden and Cyprus. Behind the seven strong senior players are four from Europe, including Colin Watson, Jack Wardale, Fraser Goodlad and Tom Urquhart. The leadership from this senior class has been strong and it has shown up on the scoresheet game in and game out for the past four years.

There is a strong trend of bringing European talent to the United States to compete in collegiate soccer and Seton Hill University has taken full advantage of this since way back when they competed in the NAIA. According to McCarty, the first European influence on the team came from Gerry Boyle and John Constable, who resided in Scotland. The most recent wave of international players comes from Dilveer Chaggar, who recently graduated with his MBA and was the team’s assistant coach for three years.

“The main reason we bring in so many European players is that they are exceptional with their technical abilities and their understanding of the game,” said McCarty. “Unlike many American players, soccer is their main sport and they train year round instead of going from sport to sport. This allows them to advance more rapidly in their development as players.”

If you take a look at the 2017 statistics for the men’s soccer roster, you will find that the top four scorers are European, including freshman Henrik Berg from Åsa, Sweden; Urquhart from Bury, England; freshman Alex Dyson from Norrtälje, Sweden; and junior Louis Mason from Dereham, Norfolk in England.

Senior midfielder Tom Urquhart dribbles the ball down the field. Urquhart, from Bury, England, is tied for second-most points on the team with 11, as of Oct. 11. Photo by D.Clark/Setonian.

This pipeline does not plan to stop any time soon for McCarty and the Griffin soccer program. McCarty is keen on keeping this relationship and recruiting strategy.

“I want to continue to bring in these kinds of players,” McCarty said. “They are hard-working and add to the diversity on campus.”

With this comes some financial concerns. “It has become increasingly difficult to meet financial needs of these players as they spend a large portion of their budgets on airfare and travel expenses to get to the U.S.,” said McCarty.

This has had quite the impact on the program since the first European players were brought over to the states. In fact, it is very common to have at least a few European players in the PSAC league as well as across the nation. It provides the players with an opportunity to play the sport they love while getting an education in a new country.

Speaking on the terms of the rest of the season and recapping what has already happened this season, McCarty said it has been an “up and down year.”

“Although we are a very young team dealing with some season ending injuries, our expectations haven’t changed,” McCarty said. “We want to make the conference tournament and we hope to play our best football towards the end of the season.”

As of Oct. 11, the men sport a record of 6-6-1, but have time to turn it around with five matches left in the season. The team still has high hopes for the postseason and they have to put in the work to get there. If the trend holds true, the talent from overseas can help the team to reach their goals.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article contained incorrect spellings of locations that have now been corrected.

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