It was Sept. 11 and the 24th minute of the Marist men’s soccer home-opener vs Howard University when senior midfielder Skylar Conway dribbled upfield to find junior forward Stefan Copetti on the right-hand side of the 18-yard box, who then struck the ball into the bottom left-hand corner to put the Red Foxes up 1-0.
4-0 was the final score for the men’s team and Copetti would go on to notch an assist as well, which marked the beginning of an incredible 10-game points streak for the junior talisman.
“No, I mean I definitely was not expecting this,” said Copetti. “I mean it’s nice that I’m on this streak, but I care way more about us winning games.”
Following the Howard game, Copetti notched an assist against New Hampshire and Bryant, then started a seven-game goal-scoring streak against Cornell, Canisius, Quinnipiac, Iona, Saint Peter’s, Rider, and most recently Manhattan.
A goal equals two points and an assist equals one. The former Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) All-Rookie Team member and two-time Rookie of the Week recipient currently has 19 points in 15 games played, with his streak ending in a 1-0 win against first-place Monmouth.
However, the start of the season did not go according to plan for Copetti, as he did not notch a single point in his first four games.
“I knew the team was expecting a lot more from me and I’m very hard on myself as a forward to try and score goals in order to help our team win,” said Copetti. “And when it wasn’t clicking for me, I took a look back at myself, did some reflecting and looked at what I needed to do better in order to finish my chances.”
The Toronto native has already surpassed his freshman year goal tally of five, with eight goals this season and three games remaining in the regular season and MAAC Conference play still to come.
He also is tied for third in the MAAC with eight goals, two goals behind first place.
If he scores two more goals, he will become the first player since Cameron Harr to score double-digit goals when Harr scored 17 in 2016.
Copetti does not pay much attention to the individual accolades, however. “I mean, yeah, they’re nice to put on a resume, but this is a team sport. It’s not about individuals really, it’s all about unity as a team and coming together to win games. I’d much rather have a MAAC Championship at the end of the season,” he says.
Copetti gives a lot of credit to his coaches and teammates for never giving up on him, despite his slow start to the season.
But perhaps the biggest boost he got this past summer was when he was forced to stay in Buffalo, NY because of the border closure between the United States and Canada.
“I played for FC Buffalo in the National Premier Soccer League. A lot of the guys I played with were like 25, 26, 27 years old, so they had a lot of years on me, a lot bigger than me. It helped me for the college game because a lot of guys are very physical.”
Copetti feels that the NPSL was very beneficial in developing his game. He feels he has become a more dynamic player and learned how to use his body to his advantage against bigger, more physical opponents.
He also gives his personal trainer credit for helping him gain more muscle and helping him stay in shape. Copetti also tries to model his game off Uruguay National Team strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani with their movement off the ball and finishing techniques. His father plays a big part of his development as well, helping him train on the soccer pitch.
There is one thing that he says he never changed, his preparation, which includes a unique pre-game routine.
“I listen to a lot of different types of music like rap, some music in Spanish, some old-time music,” said Copetti. “I always tie my right shoe before my left one. I put my right shin guard in first just because it’s my dominant foot. Superstitions like that have been working for me this season, so I’m not going to go up and go away from that.”
During games, there are a couple little details he has been taught over the duration of his career that he uses to his advantage.
“It comes down to movement, getting a little bit of separation away from my guy. If it’s making a run in behind them, a little counter movement and then checking in behind for the ball or when I get the ball on my feet I gotta know what I’m doing.”
In terms of expectations for the team, Copetti believes the team will compete for the MAAC Championship, but they need to continue getting desired results to get one of the higher seeds in the conference. The Red Foxes are currently second with a 5-2 record in the MAAC (8-6-1 overall).
“I love how tight of a bond we have here. It’s a very family oriented culture here,” said Copetti. “Coach Vig is big on implementing culture and a sense of unity together as a brotherhood. Every guy on the team has treated me with the utmost respect.”
Copetti is very thankful for the opportunities and support he has received from his freshman year until now. He knows his supporters have played a big role in his success this year.
“I’m just gonna keep scoring and hopefully the results will fall into place too,” he said.
The Red Foxes’ last three games of the regular season include matchups against Siena College, Niagara University, and Fairfield University before the MAAC tournament.
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney and Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics