The “What it Means to Be a Marist Captain” series sees Marist team captains and coaches speak on the role of a captain and its value to each team. Football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball each will have a separate edition.
With the Marist men’s soccer season officially coming to a close in a first round MAAC tournament exit, the realization of soccer careers ending, rosters changing and losing the stability of in-season day-to-day schedules all suddenly occur. The future may look to be uncertain for these athletes, but with strong leadership, there is a sense of direction moving forward.
This leadership comes from coaches and staff, and especially from the team captains. This year, there were three captains on the team and they, as well as their head coach, discussed the meaning of being selected captain and how they lead.
“It’s an added responsibility that you have to the group and to your team, an understanding that there’s something bigger than just you as an individual,” said Marist men’s soccer head coach Matt Viggiano. “To serve as a leader, obviously, for your peers and act as a go-between [with] the coaches and the players, but it’s an honor as well.”
The men’s soccer captains have a unique balance with each other both position-wise and age-wise. The three of them are able to create a sense of connection and lead the backline, midfield, and frontline because they are each on different lines. They also help keep players of all ages in unison and create different perspectives because one captain is a graduate student, one a senior and one a sophomore.
“I think they all complement each other well, which is big,” said Viggiano. “I think, this year, [I am most proud of] just the camaraderie of the group. Last year, we were a little kind of splintered. Obviously, everybody’s in different grades and things like that but, I feel like these three have embraced everyone and they made everybody feel like a part of the family whether they’re a 17-year-old freshman or 24-year-old graduate student. So I think they’ve done a really good job of really treating it like the family I want it to be.”
The three captains for the men’s soccer team are graduate student defender Demarre Montoute, senior forward Jared Juleau and sophomore midfielder Skyler Cuhna. These three are all first-time captains and have impressed Viggiano the most with maintaining the same intensity during both home and away matches.
“We’ve had three wins where we’ve come from behind. We’ve also trailed a couple of other games where we came back and tied, especially on the road. I mean, if you look at our group, and if you look around the country, most teams don’t have a winning record on the road. I feel like they’ve done a good job of sticking to the task. Just continuing to play hard to continue to fight and knowing that the game ain’t over until the 90 minutes is up,” said Viggiano.
“Demarre plays naturally as a center back and he clearly shows that he’s one of the better athletes or the better players on the team and (shows) his presence.”- Viggiano
Montoute has started as a defender each year he has been in the Marist men’s soccer program. Montoute tallied 3718 total minutes played and even scored as a defender and assisted on two goals in his collegiate career. In his first season as a captain, Montoute cherishes the responsibility.
“It’s amazing. I’ve been here for four years so I’ve seen the ups and downs of this program. I’m happy to be a leader for the guys coming in.”
The graduate student views his work ethic as his most valuable trait and it has translated to a MAAC Conference All-Championship Team selection as well as an All-MAAC Third Team selection in 2022. This year, Montoute earned an All-MAAC Second Team selection and is aware that the accolades he has received are something that other players in the program are striving for, and he wants to help them get there.
“I’m showing that I care early. Getting everything set up for the guys, talking to them and telling the young guys what to do better… for me, just making sure I’m being the best I can be every day because our guys look up to me,” said Montoute.
Juleau cited Montoute’s drive as something that makes him a good leader.
“Demarre, he’s hard-working, always. On the field and off the field. He never has that instance where he doesn’t feel like playing. He always wants to play and we love that,” said Juleau.
“His work rate is just off the charts. The way he plays, he doesn’t take a day off, he doesn’t take a play off”- Viggiano
Juleau came into the Marist men’s soccer program as a transfer from St. John’s University and immediately made an impact. Juleau recorded a team-high 17 points during his first year at Marist, including 6 goals.He was rewarded for his impact by being named a captain in his second year in the program.
“Being a captain, I just want to be the best role model for them. Show them what it means to be a Marist captain and how much of a privilege it is.”
His season culminated in an All-MAAC Third Team selection and a MAAC Offensive Player of the Week selection in 2022. This season, Juleau recorded 5 goals and his offensive contributions led to an All-MAAC Third Team selection. More importantly, provided an unrelenting effort that he felt was required to be brought as a leader no matter the score or situation.
“We’ve had three games we went down and every time I just tried to keep the team up. Keep the energy up, and that’s all I can do for these guys because they need that leadership. I just want to keep their heads up,” said Juleau.
Skyler Cuhna conveyed that Juleau’s past experience has set him up for success as a leader.
“Last year speaks for itself, his accolades and where he’s coming from. His ability on the ball, the way he carries himself as just like a professional every day, just working every day to make the team better and himself better,” said Cunha.
“Cuhna is just one of those guys where you watch him do his work. He’s easy. He’s kind of one of those quiet leaders where he just does the right thing and it sets the example for all the players”- Viggiano
Being a captain as a sophomore is a rare and sometimes difficult spot to be in. Even Cuhna himself was surprised he was named a 2023 men’s soccer captain.
“Coming into my sophomore year, (I) didn’t really expect it, but it means everything to me. Excited to help lead the team in the coming years and win some silverware with the team and lead the team to the best of my ability.”
The sophomore recorded seven points on two goals and three assists this season, leading to an All-MAAC Third Team selection. He will continue to improve his strong play and leadership abilities by putting in the required time and then some.
“I’m not so much talking but more trying to set an example for guys. For the young guys coming in, try to lead by example and show the guys what to do on and off the field,” said Cuhna.
Being that Cuhna will be in the program for a few more years, it is important for him to build a strong culture with his teammates that can carry over between seasons.
“Work as hard as I can every day. Make sure I’m getting the treatment I need, talking to the guys every day, just keeping them together and trying to build a family.”
The program has a high standard of excellence, recently winning the 2021 MAAC Championship and Viggiano relies on his captains to help maintain it. This year, the captains led the team to a MAAC tournament appearance by pushing themselves to perform at a high level. The hard work mentality instilled during practices and games will leave a lasting impact on the future of a Marist men’s soccer program hoping to quickly raise another championship banner.
Edited by Ben Leeds and Luke Sassa
Graphics by Cara Lacey; Photos via Marist athletics and Jaylen Rizzo