On Sept. 19, 2005, Windham’s Jason Jacobe notched two assists as the University of Maine men’s soccer team beat Manhattan College (N.Y.) 4-1 at Alumni Field in Orono.
Unfortunately for Jacobe and the Black Bears, that was the last time they won.
They have gone 24 games without a win and have lost 20 in a row.
The Bears went 0-7-2 over their last nine games including a season-ending five straight losses. They are 0-15 this season.
The last time they earned a point was Oct. 15, 2005, when they battled to a 1-1 tie with New Hampshire in Orono.
“It’s not like we haven’t had chances to win,” said Jacobe, who is a senior back. “The hardest part is, we’ve taken a couple of games into overtime and we’ve lost a few in the last couple of minutes. It’s not that we aren’t good enough to win. It just seems we can’t get over that edge.”
Junior striker-midfielder Jimmy Velas of Falmouth is mystified by the streak.
“It’s tough. I don’t know what to say. You’d think we’d get one [win],” said Velas.
The last four games have been frustrating and, by the same token, encouraging.
They lost 1-0 on an early penalty kick at North Carolina State; they tied Maryland-Baltimore County with 25 seconds left in regulation but lost 2-1 in overtime; they surrendered a goal with 2:28 remaining in regulation after hitting the bar earlier in the second half to lose to Albany 2-1; and they squandered a pair of one-goal leads and had a shot ring off the crossbar in overtime before suffering a 3-2 loss to league leader Vermont.
Prior to those four games, Maine had been outscored 31-5.
“If you look at our last four games, we’ve played really good soccer,” said coach Travers Evans. “We just aren’t getting the result.
“The guys could have made excuses and not played [hard] in those four games but the opposite has happened,” said Evans. “They’ve done everything I’ve asked. They’ve showed a lot of character and determination. They’ve improved dramatically since the beginning of the year.”
Jacobe and Velas have never experienced a losing streak like this. But they said the team is handling it well.
“Surprisingly, the mood hasn’t been that bad,” said Jacobe. “We all get along. We don’t blame individuals. We go out and try to win every game. Everyone thinks we can win.”
“Everyone seems to be pretty good about it,” added Velas. “We’ve been unlucky. The results haven’t shown our potential.”
There are other reasons for the streak.
The program is allowed the equivalent of 9.9 athletic scholarships for soccer and Maine has 3.5. Five of the teams in the league have 9.9 and another has 9.0, according to Evans.
Maine has also been plagued by injuries to key players.
But help is on the way.
Evans said America East has mandated that all of its soccer programs offer at least 7.5 scholarships by 2009.
That will certainly close the talent gap.
For now, Maine would just like to snap the streak. They have Stony Brook and Boston University left to play.
They seem to have the right attitudes.
“We’re going to do the best we can, try to have fun, play for each other and, hopefully, get a win,” said Jacobe. “When you’re winning, the bounces go your way. When you’re not, they don’t so you have to work that much harder.”
Larry Mahoney can be reached at 990-8231, 1-800-310-8600 or by email at email@example.com.