DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- Nick Papas sensed it early in the Mercy College men’s soccer team's preseason.
“My personal feeling, when I first arrived, was I could feel our team unity and the belief that we could do something special this season,” said Papas, a junior and the starting goalie.
Papas was on point as the Mavericks are unbeaten in their first six games -- 5-0-1. As a result, Mercy is ranked 24th in the National Soccer Coaches of American Association/Continental Tire NCAA Division II Men’s Poll. The Mavericks also are No. 4 in the East Region. This is Mercy’s first national ranking since 1989. Papas also was selected the East Coast Conference defensive player of the week.
Papas said Mercy’s major goal coming into the season was to improve on last year’s record.
“The 2011 season started out great as we went 5-1-1, then we dropped our next eight games by one or two goals and finished 6-10-1,” Papas said. “We have many new transfers this year and freshmen that came in to fill our team and give us depth.”
Mercy’s defense, led by Papas, has been the team’s strength. Papas has two shutouts so far.
“Our back four of Manuel Paulino, Moustapha Dioum, Luis Perez and Kevon Hayne, have been great, thus far,” Papas said. “But the key to our team has been great all-around play. Everyone has been staying focused and we, as a team, look at one game at a time and make sure we are ready for every opponent we face.”
Even with the team’s excellent start, Papas said Mercy remains humble.
“We are very proud of ourselves for achieving a national ranking for the first in school history since 1989,” Papas said. “We, as a team, realize we are playing well, but need to make sure we don’t get too high within ourselves and keep at the pace we are going.”