He is a captain who always has a compliment about his teammates when asked about himself. For senior Sam Lopes, captain of the Quinnipiac Braves Men’s Soccer Team, the focus is never on his own achievement or his own disappointment, but always about the team.
“He has the respect of the younger guys, but the older guys as well,” said Coach Vic Santos. He knows and trusts his teammates to make the right decisions and support each other. The captain of a team must be the one the team looks to for guidance. Lopes downplays his role by simply stating, “I try to keep the team focused.”
Don’t tell Lopes that this is a program on the verge of success. Don’t tell him that this team could be ranked in the Top 25 in a year or two. “As long as we keep winning, I don’t see why we can’t be ranked this year,” said Lopes.
To Lopes, this team is already past any rebuilding efforts. “I honestly think it’s one of the best teams ever here. We match up to anyone,” he said. With a strong defense in place and the most explosive offense in the conference, it’s hard to argue with him. “Anyone can score two or three goals a game,” he said.
Lopes leads a team that went 7-7-2 last year but fell short in the conference tournament. Lopes has seen what happened last year as a motivator. He believes that the experience of the playoffs showed the team what they’re capable of. “I don’t expect us to lose any games,” he said.
Lopes spent his summer playing in a variety of national tournaments. After playing for the Connecticut Select U-23 team earlier in the summer, he was chosen to play for the U.S. Amateur Soccer Association’s East team. With teams coming from all over the United States including, Mexico and Canada, Lopes calls it a great experience. Lopes was joined by players from some of the top programs in the nation such as St. John’s, Uconn, and Rutgers.
Soccer has been a way of life for Lopes since he was four years old. Growing up there were no other sports. Much of that has to do with the influence of his family. His father, a native of Portugal, ingrained the sport he loved into his son and Lopes has been hooked ever since. “Next to my family, it’s the only thing that I love,” says Lopes.
With so much promise and talent on this year’s squad, there are a lot of high expectations. With Lopes leading the way, count on those expectations to be fulfilled.