by Josh Chaskes
Pressure affects each person differently. We’ve all encountered it at some point or another in our lives. Many people panic and do things they’ll regret, but a select few are able to keep calm and move forward with aplomb.
Ryan Massoud is in the happy minority.
The sophomore midfielder/forward found himself in a very high-pressure situation in the men’s soccer team’s home game against College of Charleston Sept. 21, receiving the ball on the left edge of the box with his team down 2-1 in the second half. He took a dribble, then another, moving inside towards the goal, and then, as few others would dare to do, he paused. Where many would have thrown up a low-percentage shot in haste, Massoud glanced around him, realizing he had drawn three defenders, before slotting a short pass to open teammate Liam Murphy closer to the goal. He made the Huskies’ goal tally two, and they’d double it throughout the second half to come away with a 4-2 home win.
But on-field pressure is far from the only type Massoud faces. With six seniors, three who had earned all-CAA honors, departing the team after this past season, the sophomore from Ontario has increased expectations on his shoulders after leading the team with five goals as a freshman, and he knows it.
“I think when you’re out of your first year, you have a responsibility to set the standard for the younger guys coming in,” Massoud said. “I try to do that mostly with my work ethic. I work hard in practice, in the games, I’m always focused before the games, and I think some of that mindset rubs off onto the younger guys.”
Coach Chris Gbandi clearly shares this view on the importance of young players. In a pre-season interview with News @ Northeastern, he shared, “A lot of times, we think guys being young is a disadvantage, but with this group, being young is a huge advantage, because these guys have already played a lot and have that experience of playing those close games.”
His trust in the younger end of his roster means the coach will be looking to players like Massoud to catalyze future teams and provide a goalscoring outlet, as the sophomore did again this year, tying for second top goalscorer (four) and second highest shot percentage (23.5%) during the season. However, as he looks to the future, Massoud knows he still has work to do.
“I think I could be a little more vocal on the field, and in the locker room,” he said. “I’m not a huge talker at games and practices but I’m trying to be more of a leader in that role as well.”
The team has its eyes set on deep playoff runs within the next few seasons, and he’ll surely be at the forefront of that effort. Ryan Massoud has big shoes to fill, but so far they seem to fit perfectly.
photo by Christian Gomez