By Joyce Erekson
Mike Russo of Lynn is making his presence known as a member of the Rivier University men’s soccer team.
The 2013 St. Mary’s graduate has been a starter for Raiders for the past three years. As a junior he was named the team Most Valuable Player and he was named Rivier’s Male Student Athlete of the Month in October. He was a captain as a junior and will be one again as a senior.
Russo has played a variety of different positions since coming to Rivier. This fall he moved from the center back position to striker at the beginning of October and his presence up front was felt immediately. Russo’s offensive impact was felt in a game against Lesley University early in the month and it really shone through when he had eight shots and a goal in a 2-2 double overtime tie with Emmanual College. Russo was a key factor in the Raiders going undefeated in a three game stretch for the first time in over 11 years. Rivier tied Emmanuel and had wins over Anna Maria College and Emerson.
Russo played midfield and defense when he as at St. Mary’s. The team made it to the North finals his sophomore year and he was a Catholic Central League All-Star as a senior. He was a freshman at St. Mary’s when coach Mike D’Agostino, who took his team to the Division 4 state final this year, took over as head coach. The Spartans have done well under D’Agostino. This fall they made it to the Division 4 state final before losing to Monson, 6-2.
Russo said in making his decision to go to Rivier, he was looking for a school that was a good fit academically and one where he would play soccer. He said coming from St. Mary’s, he liked the fact Rivier is a small school. Since being at Nashua, N.H. school, Russo said he has p
retty much played every position. Russo said he enjoys playing up front, but will play wherever he’s needed.
“This year has been the best for me personally, scoring two goals and three assists,” he said.
Russo, who is majoring in business, said it took a little time to adjust when it came to making the jump from high school soccer to college soccer.
“It’s definitely a different experience than high school. Everyone is at a high level. It’s good to see where I fit in,” he said. “I think overall I’ve learned a lot and I have grown as a player.”
Russo said his goal for next year is to have a better season and make the playoffs. The Raiders finished 3-11-1 this fall.