MEN'S SOCCER: Ireland's Abbott Beginning To Be Comfortable On Soccer Pitch
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
One look at this year’s Boston College men’s soccer team’s starting lineup will show a decent amount of unfamiliarity. This year’s squad has featured three freshman starters consistently, a very different scene from last year’s veteran-laden squad. Class of 2016 member Jason Abbott has shown great leadership and quick learning during his young start in the BC midfield.
Abbott, a native of Cork, Ireland, has stepped into the role of a playmaker for the Eagles. Whenever asked about his role on the team, Abbott modestly says, “Probably to keep the ball moving.” As a new member of the highly competitive ACC, the Irishman has had to adjust to collegiate play fairly quickly, gaining experience as the season progresses. Adding even more difficulty to this adjustment is the fact that Abbott is no longer playing within the comfortable confines of his native land and teammates.
“It’s completely different,” he said. “I was just playing with people I knew all my life, but now, coming here, I didn’t know anybody and I had to start fitting in with a new team. It’s difficult at the start, but after the first couple of games we’ve begun fitting in and getting back to winning ways.”
The midfielder comes to the Heights with a strong background in the international soccer circuit. He’s been capped by his homeland of the Republic of Ireland for his performance at the U-16 and U-18 levels. Also, he represented his nation as a member of Ireland’s national team in 2010 in Italy, 2011 in England, and 2012 in Ireland.
Abbott believes that his greatest athletic achievement, however, came at the national level.
“Winning the national cup with my local team,” he said. “I got the winning goal, and my dad was the manager for that game as well, so it was pretty nice.”
In May 2011, he led his team, Cork SL, as team captain in the U-16 all-Ireland tournament. His team came away with a medal in the nationwide event, an eventful accomplishment for such a young athlete.
Yet moving from the soccer of Ireland to U.S. college soccer has been a bit of a culture shock for the freshman.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “It’s completely different compared to Ireland. Just fitting into the new team. Just coming over to a new country, and fitting in with the lads is just completely different.”
One aspect of this year’s Eagles squad that excites Abbott is the addition of so much youth early on.
“When I came here on my recruitment trip, the seniors and juniors were mostly playing, but now there are so many freshmen playing and starting,” he said. “It’s completely different, so it’s good to see that there are younger players coming through in the school. It’s nice that we’re playing together.”
The rookie explained that being able to step into a starting role from the start has helped him enormously in his development, especially in a league where the 5-foot-8, 155-pounder is one of the smaller players patrolling the midfield.
“Yeah, it’s helped a lot, because if I was sitting on the bench and then coming into games it would have been hard,” he said. “It’s a totally different game, playing in Ireland. It’s much more physical, because a lot of these guys are bigger than me.”
Regardless of any size differences, Abbott has made an impact already with a goal and an assist in seven matches. One thing that he cites as being most crucial to his constant readjusting in the ACC has been the veteran leadership of the squad. When asked about what elements of his game have helped him play well, he immediately acknowledged his older teammates as being the ones behind his success.
“It’s not really my performance,” he said. “It’s the older lads helping me out all the time, and telling me where to go, and especially how the older lads keep talking to me during the game. That’s meant a lot.”
For Abbott, playing in a new country with a new team and new teammates is a source of constant excitement. He seems to be taking everything one step at a time and is more worried about working for tomorrow’s match than any lofty goals far down the road. Abbott knows the work necessary to fight for success at the end of the season.
“Hopefully, we can keep winning the winning streak going and see where it takes us.”