Men’s soccer star Aaron O’Neal looks to make senior season his best yet| From Commonwealth | By Dan Mercurio
In 2009, Aaron O’Neal (left) registered a team-high 11 goals and ranked in the top 10 in America East in points, goals, and shots. Photo by DSPics.net
How does a soccer player follow up a freshman year in which he led the team in points, earned conference Rookie of the Year honors, and scored three game-winning goals? The answer: play just as well in his sophomore season and emerge in junior year as one of the best players in the conference.
At least that’s the way senior captain Aaron O’Neal (CAS’11) chose to do it. The Virginia Beach, Va., native has made quite a splash since arriving at BU in 2007, and he has high hopes for his final season in scarlet and white.
O’Neal’s main challenge this year will be topping his 2009 success. The forward and midfielder registered a team-high 11 goals, ranked in the top 10 in America East in points, goals, and shots, and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. As much as he would love his individual success to continue, O’Neal says, the team’s mission—winning the America East title this year—is far more important.
“My success as a player doesn’t mean anything, really,” he says. “I’d trade every goal I scored last year to get rid of the image of the seniors in the locker room when we lost in the playoffs.”
His team’s surprise loss (2-1) to the University of Hartford in the first round of the America East tournament shut down a roller-coaster season that saw the Terriers beat perennial soccer power St. John’s University, the number-one team in
“Beating St. John’s was incredible,” O’Neal says. “Especially to do it at home and when they were ranked number one. Our confidence at that point in the season was so high. We felt like if we played the way we knew we were capable of, we couldn’t be stopped.”
“This year,” he says, “we want to win the conference. We have the talent to do it. There are certain guys that need to take on more responsibility now that they’re older. If that happens, we have a real good shot. The pressure is on us as a unit more than anything.”
He pauses. “Senior year. My last chance—all I’ve got.”