The Seton Hall men’s soccer program is off to a hot start in the 2018 season and looks primed to finish with a winning record for the first time in 12 years.
Since 2006, the team has not had a winning percentage over .500. Under first-year head coach Andreas Lindberg, the team has a .562 winning percentage and is on pace for nine victories. This would be the most since 2006, although in that year the program had 18 matches, in contrast to the 15 matches this season.
Lindberg has turned the soccer program around since he was hired last December, but that does not come as a shock due to his reputation as being a perennial winner. In his 12 seasons as a college coach, Lindberg has accumulated a winning percentage of .766 and appeared in the NCAA tournament seven times.
While leading Division II LIU-Post, Lindberg was able to earn the top ranking in the country five times according to the United States Coaching Poll, and he also finished within the top-15 in the last seven seasons he was at the helm. He was named the East Coast Conference Coach of The Year six times.
Even though Lindberg makes his offensively attacking nature known, it has been the defense that has stepped up for the Pirates as compared to recent seasons. In 2016, the Pirates gave up an average of 1.59 goals per game. In 2017, that number was 1.76. Now, Seton Hall is giving up just one goal per game, a considerable improvement.
A major factor in this is Andreas Nota, the team’s goalkeeper and backbone of the defense. In seven games, he has seven shutouts and has saved 80 percent of shots faced.
Nota has been the only player to man net so far this season. The reliable presence in goal has been huge for the Pirates, as last season, four different goalkeepers played at different points. Out of the four, the highest save percentage for a goalkeeper who played more than one game was 69 percent.
Another reason for the improved defense is Seton Hall’s increase in discipline. Last season, the Pirates had 219 fouls, 30 yellow cards and four red cards. This season, the team is on pace for approximately 189 fouls, 21 yellow cards and zero red cards. Without question, the program has kicked it up a notch defensively while not getting reckless with their play, which is a true testament to the renovated system.
The men’s soccer team is clearly taking a step towards becoming a well-rounded Big East program, and that is by no accident. With a coach who is an experienced winner and a defense who comes out to play each match, it could be the beginning of an era filled with improved play on the pitch.
Robert Fallo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @robert_fallo.