CLICK HERE to read original article - written by Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Steve Craig
YARMOUTH — Saint Joseph's College's school-record 15-game unbeaten streak in men's soccer has primarily been a product of sticky defense, timely scoring and young players developing quickly into a cohesive group of ball-winning workers.
In a 1-0 win Wednesday against Suffolk, the Monks also had some luck.
Suffolk outplayed the Monks in the first half, had four top-shelf chances and easily could have led by multiple goals. Instead the teams went to the break tied.
"That's been part of the story of our season. I think in soccer, winning teams have the luck on their side," third-year coach Adrian Dubois said. "I think if you do the little things right in practice and off the field, the luck, it adds up."
The sum totals have been impressive this season for Saint Joseph's.
Behind a team-leading sixth goal in the 64th minute from Brett Mattos and 6-foot-7 goalie Blake Mullen's 11th shutout, the Monks improved to 12-1-4 overall and 7-0-1 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. Saint Joseph's has outscored opponents, 26-6.
Saint Joseph's set a school record with eight straight wins earlier in the season. Wednesday's win clinched first place in the regular season with one game to play and home field in the GNAC tournament that begins Oct. 29. The champion gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. If the Monks return to the NCAAs for the first time since 2011, they'll break the school record of 14 wins in a season.
"Ultimately we want to go as far as we can," said junior forward Austin Bell of Gorham, one of the nine players from Maine. "We just finished atop the conference. Our next goal is to win GNACs.
"We can't look too far ahead. We're still a young team. Most of our starters are freshmen and sophomores."
Under Dubois, Saint Joseph's has quickly reversed its fortunes. After a 5-15 season in 2014, Dubois brought in a large recruiting class that included Mattos, Mullen and steady defensive midfielder Rory Twomey, and the Monks were 11-7-1 in 2015.
"He's just been recruiting really good players, maintaining high consistency with what he expects, and that's picked our program up," Bell said.
Dubois' own playing resume is impressive: New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year at Fall Mountain Regional, a mid-size school in western New Hampshire; four years as a starter at the University of New Hampshire (2006-09); and several professional seasons, including three years with the San Diego Flash of the National Premier Soccer league and a stint with the Los Angeles Blues of the United Soccer League.
But at each stop he was the small-town kid who had to prove himself.
"Every time. That's my MO for sure," Dubois said.
When he recruits he's looking for players with a similar chip on their shoulders.
"Exactly. Big time. Guys who other coaches might think can't succeed, guys other coaches overlook," Dubois said.
Mullen, who has a league-leading 0.30 goals-against average, was "playing for some backwater club," in Connecticut, Dubois said.
"He was 6-6 so that's good and when I saw him he made one really athletic play," Dubois said.
"Coach Adrian really drew me to this program," Mullen said. "It wasn't the best when he came but he told me what he was going to do. He told me he wanted to build it into something nationally known and I think we're definitely getting there."
Mitchell Duncan is a 5-foot-7 freshman from Sanford. He earned second-team all-SMAA honors at Sanford High and played for Seacoast United, but was much less heralded than fellow freshmen teammates Cody Elliott and Jackson Taylor of Gorham, and Keenan Welzel of Brunswick.
Dubois said he saw Duncan as a first-team caliber player, with great tactical awareness, who would fit his team.
Against Suffolk, Duncan came off the bench to spark the offense, teaming with Mattos on multiple runs and assisting on the goal.
"I didn't get the start today, and I knew I had to come out and impress the coach and maybe get some more time," Duncan said. "I think everyone is in the same boat."
Twenty Monks have made at least one start this season. Eighteen played against Suffolk.
"Everyone contributes. Everyone does their job," Mattos said. "And when everyone does their job we win the game."
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.