ALBANY — UAlbany men’s soccer head coach Trevor Gorman said Austin DaSilva “pops up in the right places to score goals.”
DaSilva did that so well in the fall of 2019 that three weeks ago, he popped up among the players to watch in contention for the highest individual award in NCAA Division I soccer.
The junior from Brookfield, Connecticut, was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Preseason Watch List and will be a focal point of whatever success the Great Danes have in 2021, which begins Friday against Syracuse at Afrim’s Sports Dome in Latham.
DaSilva scored 12 goals in 15 games in 2019, garnering America East Striker of the Year honors while also being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-Northeast team. UAlbany, which hasn’t played a game in over 13 months, will count on DaSilva to re-create the magic he performed in 2019 as they head into a season in which the Great Danes were picked third of nine teams in the AE coaches’ poll.
“Austin is totally deserving after the campaign he had in 2019,” Gorman said. “Austin has a knack for scoring goals. He’s relentless in the pressure he puts on defenders. He stresses them physically with his pace and athleticism, he stresses it with his creativity, he can go to his right, he can go to the left, he’s good in the air.
“We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do here in this spring season after such a long layoff, but we’re confident he’s going to be a threat.”
“I’m very gracious for it,” DaSilva said of the Hermann recognition. “In my eyes, honestly, I don’t think I’ve accomplished anything yet. I still have a lot to prove. I didn’t win the award, so there’s sill a lot to prove.”
DaSilva was one of 35 players named to the watch list and is the only America East player on it.
His 12 goals was the second-highest by a Great Dane since UAlbany went to Division I.
A human biology major who is on track to graduate after the 2021 fall semester, DaSilva started his college soccer career at Connecticut before transferring after one season.
“I would say my decision, it was a lot of personal reasons, as well as soccer-related things. I don’t think I’d like to say why I left UConn, I have a lot of respect for that program, but it wasn’t a good fit for me,” Da Silva said.
“My first fall here definitely lived up to my expectations, more than what I expected. Transferring, I knew I had a lot to prove, so I was going into every game knowing people and my former coaches did not believe in me as much as I believed in myself.
“So just trying to make sure I was doing myself justice, knowing that I felt like a player that could make an impact, and trying to make that impact, and it ended up working out. It was a good first fall, but this upcoming season, last fall means nothing. I have to continue to get better, and hopefully as a team we’re successful. That’s what’s most important to me.”
Although the Great Danes were able to keep up a practice schedule this fall despite their season being pushed to the spring because of COVID-19 restrictions, they didn’t have a full roster.
Many of the international players chose to stay home and study remotely.
Gorman said some of his players didn’t actually meet each other until the start of this semester.
“It would be unrealistic to think we’re going to be in midseason form first time out or even second time out,” Gorman said. “We’re still putting the pieces together. We know who we are in our first match is not going to be who we are in our last match, and that’s exciting, as well. The process is just as much fun as the individual game.”
Playing in February and March is a departure from what the team is used to — the 2019 season began with August games — but DaSilva said the Great Danes don’t care what conditions they face, as long as they have a season.
“Nobody’s complaining,” he said. “It’s nation-wide. We’re not going to think that we get different treatment. This is something, really, that nobody has lived through. It’s not like we can ask our parents what to do, because they haven’t lived through it, either. We’re all very mature about it, so nobody’s complaining.”
“The last match was November of 2019, which feels like an age ago, so the guys have been in real good spirits,” Gorman said.