After a season in which the Seton Hall men’s soccer team finished 6-10-1, the Pirates entered an offseason of considerable change centered around the hiring of Andreas Lindberg as the team’s next head coach.
With a new coach comes fresh perspective, meaning not only a change in culture around the program but also a change in style of play.
“I like to play attack-minded soccer that’s attractive to watch,” Lindberg said. “Realistically, we also want to be solid and organized, tactically strong. I like to play good and attractive soccer, but I like to win more.”
Winning is the ultimate goal and the reason why Lindberg was hired. His first head-coaching job came at his alma-mater, LIU-Southampton, where he brought the program to national relevance, climbing as high as 16th in the Division II Coaches’ Poll. After leaving college coaching in 2006, Lindberg returned three years later to take over LIU-Post, where he spent the last nine seasons.
In his time at LIU-Post, Lindberg won eight regular season conference championships, six conference tournament champions and appeared in the NCAA Tournament seven times. His program also was No. 1 in the Division II Coaches’ Poll on five separate occasions.
As coach of Seton Hall, Lindberg will look to bring a winning culture o to South Orange, but it will take time to build the program to the level he aspires. One element working in his favor is the significant roster turnover with nine players set to graduate next year.
“In a way, it’s good that there are a lot of students graduating because it takes less time for myself and the staff to make it our own,” Lindberg said. “We can recruit and bring in new players that fit us.”
The Pirate roster for next year currently has 15 players, but that is subject to change if any more players decide to transfer elsewhere. Already, Seton Hall has lost four players from its 2017 roster who were eligible to be a part of the team in 2018, including Jonathan Jimenez – who had a team-leading four assists – and midfielder Andres Veizaga, who appeared in 12 games.
The limited roster has made it easy for Lindberg to build relationships with his returning players, a group he has praised for its willingness to buy into his message.
“The small roster for the spring gives us a chance to get to know the guys well, evaluate them, and get them to buy into how we want to do things,” Lindberg said.
Even with several returning players, a new coach often struggles to find team leaders early on. Lindberg, however, has earned the respect of his returning seniors, who have bought into his coaching and filled the leadership void.
“Naturally you look to the seniors to lead,” Lindberg said. “Pedro [Neto] and the Burkhardt twins (Spencer and Corey) are three guys that have been here for a while, are buying into the new culture, and have helped me both on and off the field.”
One of those future seniors, Spencer Burkhardt, spoke highly of his new coach and how Lindberg reassured him in the wake of his hiring.
“Going into my senior year, it can be a little worrying knowing that we are getting a new coach,” Burkhardt said. “But I met with him and what made me confident was that he had gone through a similar experience in college, so he had advice to offer me. All he asked was to give him a chance and I just said, ‘Alright, done.’”
As Lindberg looks toward next season, a priority will be to fill out the rest of his roster with a first wave of his own players. Still, even without a first recruiting class of his own, it is clear that Lindberg has players who are reinvigorated and prepared to win behind him.
Lindberg has already booked non-conferences matches against strong local teams like Army, Hofstra and a Fordham team that reached the NCAA Elite Eight last year.
“It’s Year 1, but we’re looking forward to building this,” Lindberg said. “Seton Hall hasn’t made the conference playoffs in five years, so that’s a goal of ours. Hopefully, we can surprise some people.”
Andrew Lombardo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @lombardo_andrew.