Men’s soccer looks towards “toughest schedule” in program history with new roster, coaches


courtesy of Daniel Toulson

Assistant coach Bo Feekins talks to players.

By Jason Tulchin, Assistant Sports Editor

Going into next season, the men’s soccer team will have two new members joining their coaching staff—ones that bring their share of experience both at Emerson and in semi-professional soccer.

The Lions added alum Bo Feekins ‘22 and Owen Miller, former assistant coach of a semi-pro side in Valencia, Spain, just in time for the 2023 recruitment season.

Miller, who helped coach the fourth-division side Vilamarxant CF last year, also worked as a recruiter for ETURE Sports during his time in Spain. He said his experience recruiting athletes internationally is something that he hopes to bring to the table for Emerson.

“I had the chance to work with both Americans and Spaniards of all different types of backgrounds—economic backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, and was still able to see success there,” Miller said. “What I’m looking to bring is being able to work with different types of people with different profiles.”
Miller, a former defender for UMass Lowell men’s soccer, had to adjust to the Spanish style of play at Vilamarxant, one that emphasizes ball retention and playing as a unit—a style that he hopes to introduce to the Lions’ own method of play.

With a new face comes a familiar one—Feekins was a captain on the 2021 and 2022 men’s soccer teams, ad was vital to the Lions’ success in their historic run last year, becoming the first team in program history to make it to the NEWMAC finals. As a former teammate to the players he will be coaching, Feekins said he has a unique—and helpful—bond with the existing team that he says he’s had long before he stepped into an official role.

“For the most part, as a player, I was always in a leadership role [while I was] one of the more senior players on the team,” said Feekins. “I don’t look at coaching much differently than [from] when I was a player.”

While Feekins anticipates coaching former teammates to be a bit of a “weird” experience, he said that, with time, he hopes to settle into the position with the help of the pre-established connection he has to the men’s soccer program.

Veteran Coach Daniel Toulson, who has been with the Lions since 2017 and was promoted to head coach in 2021, is at the head of the pride. Toulson, who was behind the team’s 2022 run, says that while the previous season was something for the team to be proud of, he doesn’t want it to create high expectations for the 2023 season. Instead, Toulson said, he wants to make sure that the work his players put in is for the journey, not the destination.

“[The culture] is too results-based,” Toulson said. “For me, it’s much more about perfecting the process. There’s still elements of our culture that we need to get right […] we started [the 2022 season] with a lot of intention behind our playing style, and that kind of went away as we got into the thick of our schedule. We want to be more intentional with how we play the game and make sure we’re doing things in the way we want to.

Investment, effort, being good teammates, and bonding well with each other are all goals Toulson has for the upcoming season—a sentiment that Feekins and Miller echoed.

“If we’re all looking to improve [and] we’re all putting in the steps to further our development, then we all win,” Feekins said.

“The culture is great after being here for about a month at this point,” Miller said. “Continuing to build those relationships is something I’m really looking forward to.”

The Lions face what Toulson describes as the “most challenging” schedule that the program has ever faced. Headlining the list of challengers is Tufts University, who the men’s soccer team has never played before. The date against Tufts also coincides with matchups against other opponents in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), such as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Bowdoin College, who both advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament

The Lions will also be hosting Bates College, who were on the lower end of NESCAC standings at the end of their season—though Toulson says that the Bobcats have a promising program that could give the Lions the challenge they need. Completing this inter-conference lineup is the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)’s own Suffolk University, who were fourth overall in the CCC last year.

In the NEWMAC, the Lions will also be facing the newly-added Salve Regina Seahawks. Last year, they were ranked fifth in the CCC, and may be another challenging matchup for the Lions.

With a new cluster of opponents, the Lions are fielding grizzled veterans from previous seasons—MVP goalkeeper Ethan Fitzsimmons, as well as fellow USC All-Region II members Cade Mallett and Aidan Ferguson, will be returning for another season. Rising seniors Aaron Tyler, Connor Donovan, Ben Deeming, Thomas Chuaqui, and Cameron Arendt will be playing their last season as Lions next year. While the men’s team will come into the season six since-graduated seniors short, Toulson is quite confident that the fresh recruits will push the returning class to take their game further.

“A lot of these guys that are coming back had a lot of experience last year […] and they went right to the final,” he said. “We have an incoming group that’s going to push them really hard, which is the only way to continue to get better. We’ll end up with probably eight [new] guys coming in. The good thing is that these guys [have] really, really high character. They’re going to be positive teammates and bring a lot of energy to the training environment. We’re really excited about them as well.”