The Ithaca College men’s soccer team had a bounce–back season this fall, finishing at 14–2–4, which was a seven–win improvement from its 2017 campaign.
The Bombers defeated Skidmore College on Oct. 30 and also defeated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Nov. 3 en route to the Liberty League Championship where they faced St. Lawrence University. The Saints and Bombers played to a 1–1 tie, but St. Lawrence took home the championship as a result of a 3–1 advantage in penalty kicks Nov. 4. While the Bombers led a valiant effort, they were not able to secure one of the 20 at-large bid spots in the 2018 NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament, and as a result, their season has come to an end.
Senior striker Nate Mansfield finished the season with three goals, which was third highest on the team. All three of his goals were game-winning, placing him third in the Liberty League Conference standings.
Mansfield is a transfer from SUNY Broome Community College, where he received NJCAA First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-Region honors during his sophomore season. He attended Misericordia University his freshman year, where he started in two games.
Assistant Sports Editor Jack Murray spoke with Mansfield to discuss his strong season, his journey to the Bombers and how the team improved from last season.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jack Murray: What was different about this year’s team?
Nate Mansfield: The younger guys that came in just lifted the level all-around. In the spring, we worked very hard every day, working out and doing conditioning, and I think it has just become a more serious deal. We learned how good we actually are and realized we could actually go far and win games. Last year, we were a little shaky on defense; we just weren’t all there. This year, we have the pieces with the young guys coming in, as well as the guys in their second or third years on the team. In all positions, we have solid players where we can go 20-guys deep. We just have a solid group of soccer players.
JM: With your previous experience at Misericordia University and SUNY Broome Community College, what are some differences between the Ithaca College soccer program and your previous schools?
NM: I think that being on this team has been the closest, friendship and familywise, out of the schools I have been to. We have a bunch of good soccer players that all just enjoy each other. We are all friends, we all get along and hang out. I think that that friendship and feeling of being a part of a family is probably the biggest difference.
JM: How would you characterize this year’s team?
NM: Honestly, I think we have just got a great team all-around. Our defense, with Ben [Quatresols], Justinian [Michaels] and Tom [Dillman], as well as first-year Tom Pierce, those guys have really locked down the back, without even mentioning Max Lichtenstein in the goal, who is probably one of the best keepers in the league. Moving on to our midfield, with Jack [Monnes], Nate [Schoen] and whatever first-year we slide in there, those guys are always solid. Up top, we have so many different options. I don’t think there is one spot on the team that is better than the other. We are all just a solid group.
JM: What has your experience being on the Bombers meant to you?
NM: I played my first two years of college, and then I had to take a year off since I played at SUNY Broome, which is a two-year school, and I wasn’t eligible the next year, so I actually half-retired. To be back and able to play on a team that is doing so well this year is awesome. To be able to play at a high level with a great group of guys after a year off means a lot.
JM: Can you reflect on the team’s performance in the Liberty League Conference Tournament?
NM: Our team’s performance in the Liberty League Tournament was the result of all of the hard work that we put into our season this year. Every session since August helped us to physically and mentally prepare for a chance at the title and our effort and play reflected that. We played some of the best soccer all season over the weekend, and it’s really tough to work that hard and come so close to your goal and not get it. The semifinal victory over RPI was an amazing win for our team and only brought us closer together as a team. Everyone was extremely excited after the win, but we all remained focused on our end goal of the championship.
JM: What impact will this year’s team have on your life moving forward?
NM: This team and this year is something I’ll never forget. The hard work and dedication we all put into this season is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The guys on this team are my family. They will be back next year. I can’t wait to come watch.