October 5, 2008
Alumni Update: Joey Neilson
Since becoming the Bearcats' head coach in 2002, Paul Marco has brought in several players he knew ahead of time would make a major impact. If he had to pick a player who exceeded expectations, however, Joey Neilson would be near the top of the list.
While he didn't earn all-conference honors, Neilson scored 14 goals and dished out nine assists during his four seasons. He had six game-winning goals and was named to the 2005 and 2006 America East All-Tournament teams.
"If you were to tell me Joey would have accomplished all that he did before he came. I wouldn't have not believed you but I would have been hesitant to think that he could do all of that," Marco said. "He certainly surprised himself sometimes with some of the things he was able to pull off on the field. He had talent but when he was playing against top Division I players, he still rose above the occasion and banged in goals."
Nielson, by his own admission, also accomplished more than he thought he could during his career at Binghamton. He attributes that to being part of the men's soccer program.
"Being a member of Binghamton University Men's Soccer team taught me
more than any class ever could have," he said. "It instilled the values of determination, commitment and sacrifice. I use the lessons learned at
Binghamton to structure and organize my life."
Since he graduated from Binghamton in 2007, Neilson has been working for a computer company called Medcom Computers. He created the company's website and sell medical systems to physicians. While working, he is going to West Chester University for a certificate in Special Education. While it has been nearly two years since he last played for them, Neilson still recalls how influential Marco and assistant coach John Scott were to him and his teammates.
"They were tough, demanding and the best coaches I ever played for," he said. "They have extremely high expectations and hold every player to world class standards. They create at competitive atmosphere that pushes each player to achieve their potential. What makes them unique is they invest enormous amount of time and energy into the players' academic performance. My academic success is largely due to academic meetings with the coaches."
In 2003, Neilson was a freshman when he scored the biggest goal in the program's Division I history. Binghamton had surprised everyone by winning the America East championship and its first round NCAA game was at No. 13 Fairleigh Dickinson. With eight minutes left in a scoreless second half, Neilson scored to propel the Bearcats to a 1-0 upset. What made the goal so special for him is that he scored a goal moments earlier that was waved off when he was ruled offside.
"I was devastated when that first goal was called back," he said. "But with eight minutes left in the game I got the ball 30 yards out, dribbled by two players and chipped the ball by the goalkeeper for the game-winning goal. Since first goal taken away from me, scoring this goal meant the world to me. Hearing the roar of the crowd afterwards and the seeing smiles on my teammates' faces is something I will never forget."
Three years later, Binghamton won its second America East title in four years. It was Neilson's senior year, which made that title all the more special for him.
"Winning the America East Title in 2003 was special for me because no one expected us to do it," he said. "But winning the America East Championship in 2006 meant more to me. This was my senior year and it meant so much to me to win the championship that year."
Although the Bearcats lost 2-1 in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament at Harvard, the win in the America East finals one week earlier against Vermont was the perfect way for Neilson to conclude his final game at the old West Gym Field. For four years, Neilson had created moments on that field both in games and during training sessions. In short, he was a major part of the Bearcats' success during that time.
"He was a guy in training and in games who would just keep running," Marco said. "He was going to beat two, three or four players. He had brilliant moments that people who played with him will remember for a very long time. He overacheived here at Binghamton."
Posted October 5, 2008. 3 p.m.
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