Years from now, the 2019 Binghamton men’s soccer team might be regarded as a rarity in BU sports. Most young starting lineups in college tend to take some time to gel together, but the players in Binghamton clicked from the start, when the team started seven freshmen in the season-opening win against Drexel. Leading this new, young squad is the team’s co-captain, junior midfielder Noah Luescher. Luescher spoke about his heroics in the opener against Drexel as well as his transition to Binghamton after growing up in Switzerland on this week’s episode of Pipe Dream’s Bearcast.
Luescher started the Drexel game on the bench due to a preseason injury, but he made his mark when he was in the game. Luescher scored both Bearcat goals, including the game-winner in the 94th minute after Drexel fouled right outside the 18-yard box.
“I was setting up the ball, and [redshirt freshman midfielder] Parker McKnight comes up to me and says, ‘I didn’t ask for 10 — just shoot it,’” Luescher said.
The kick sailed in the back right corner of the net as the Drexel goalie was busy setting up his defense.
Though winning that game may have looked easy for Luescher, his transition to a new country was not. The Binghamton star had been playing soccer in Switzerland since he was three years old. He played on an academy team for 10 years when he was approached by an agency that offered him an opportunity to come play in America.
If he stayed in his native country, Luescher would have forced to choose between continuing his soccer career or his education. In the United States, he had the chance to continue both by playing in college, and Luescher capitalized on the opportunity in 2017.
Coming to Binghamton was tough for Luescher at first. He was away from his friends and family for the first time and had to adapt to a brand-new culture. His home village of around 3,000 citizens was more than five times smaller than his new campus, but he credits the leaders on the 2017 team for helping ease his transition. It was those same leaders who inspired him to be a good leader for his current teammates, especially the young players and Europeans on the roster.
“[Being co-captain] has been a great experience,” Luescher said. “I love taking players under my wing. When I came two years ago from Switzerland, it was kind of tough being here all by myself without my family and friends, but I had leaders and players as well that took me under their wing and I could just return the favor to the new guys.”
After a tough 2018 campaign for BU, Luescher seems to believe the new, young talent has brought a contagious energy to the Bearcats and will help the squad make some noise this season.
“The young guys have brought a lot of excitement and a lot of joy into the game,” Luescher said. “They were eager to play and I think we were missing that a little bit in past seasons. The excitement of the young guys and the willingness to win of the whole group was great this game against Drexel. I think that’s what made the difference.”
Being a captain is not something that Luescher takes lightly. He describes himself as “a quiet leader,” as he talks to the players in private. His style forms a complement to the outspoken and vocal leadership style of his fellow co-captain, graduate student defender Stephen McKenna.
“[McKenna and I] want the best for the team,” Luescher said. “We have to thank our teammates for following our lead and listening. That makes our life much easier.”
Although Luescher already has earned the respect of his teammates through his play and his leadership, he says he is motivated to do whatever it takes to keep that respect.
“Just coming into the game and putting in two goals, I earned a lot of respect [with the team] and I think that was great for me and my leadership,” Luescher said. “I have to keep playing my best game to keep up the respect and reputation I have on the team. I think people on campus are expecting a lot from me, and I have to be on top of my game to meet those expectations.”
To listen to the full podcast, subscribe to the Pipe Dream Bearcast at bupipedream.com/sports, Apple Podcasts or Google Play.