CLICK HERE to read original article, written by Foster's Daily Democrat Staff Writer Mike Whaley
STANDISH, Maine — Mitchell Cyr was faced with a challenge his junior year playing for the Saint Joseph's College men's soccer team.
After starting for most of his freshman and sophomore seasons, Cyr was moved to a reserve role as the Monks became a nationally ranked program.
The Rochester-native and former Spaulding High School All-State performer didn't sulk. Instead he embraced his role and helped St. Joe's go 19-0-2 and advance to the NCAA Division III tournament for the second straight season. The Monks lost in the second round to Tufts on corner kicks, 4-2.
"We had a lot of great depth," said coach Adrian Dubois. "We had a lot of young players coming in because we became a hot program."
Dubois said Cyr was challenged with less playing time. "He fell behind a little bit to better athletes, guys who were more bought in to out of season work, lifting and playing more. He didn't play as much. He started two games."
Cyr dealt with it. "I came off the bench and played a role to give the guys a break," he said. "I did my job when I was in there."
Cyr turned things around this year and has been a starter in 18 of the Monks' 20 games. St. Joe's is 20-0-0 and ranked fifth and eighth in two national polls. It is second in New England behind Tufts (13-0-3). The Monks are the only NCAA program at any level without a loss or a tie.
"Because he has winner characteristics, he didn't want to not play again," Dubois said. "He had a great summer. He had a great offseason. He stuck with working hard. He didn't fold like a lot of other guys do. He's back playing, starting every game and leading our team again, which is a fantastic story, actually."
Cyr is part of a St. Joe's defense that has allowed just two goals total the past two seasons. This year the Monks have outscored the opposition 77-1. They won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament title for the third straight year, beating Johnson & Wales in the final last Sunday, 1-0.
St. Joe's plays in its third consecutive NCAA tournament Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Middlebury College (10-3-3) in Amherst, Mass.
The winner advances to the second round Sunday for a 1 p.m. start against the winner between Amherst and Bridgewater State.
"Our coach preaches the defense," Cyr said. "He's really defense minded. We all kind of buy into that. It really shows with the lack of goals we've allowed."
The Monks are No. 1 in the nation in goals against average (.048), shutouts (19) and shutout percentage (.950). They have a 41-game undefeated streak.
"He preaches that everybody has to defend because it's a team effort," said Cyr, a business and sports management major.
Cyr has been a pivotal part of the Monks on defense the past four years, playing in 81 of 83 games with 56 starts. They have gone 65-9-9 since he was a freshman.
As a sophomore, Cyr started 18 of 23 games as the Monks went 15-2-6 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"Mitch is a winner," Dubois said. "He's got incredible winner characteristics. The kid loves to compete. I saw it in his high school soccer days. I saw it in the Lions Cup. The kid will do whatever it takes to win."
Which is why St. Joe's is still playing soccer when most teams are done for the season.
"He is one of the leaders on defense," Dubois said. "He's that guy who will put his body on the line. He's the guy who follows through with the tactical plan. He's just bought into it. He's the leader of it. He gets the young guys onboard. He's kind of the shining beacon of what we are about, what our commitment is for and what we commit to."