Morais battles for the ball in one of his final games as a River Hawk. (Courtesy)
Not all student athletes are fortunate enough to continue their playing career after college, let alone in a professional league. However, that is exactly the case for former UMass Lowell soccer star Homero Morais, who currently plays for Boston City FC in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).
Morais grew up in Somerville, Mass. where he was a standout player at Somerville High School. Starting all four years on varsity, he had 98 goals throughout his career and was a three-year captain of his team.
In his biographical video on the UMass Lowell athletics’ website, Morais says that the proximity of the university to Somerville was his primary factor in choosing the school. He was able to see his family frequently and still showcase his talents on the field.
From the very beginning of his freshman year, Morais often started in games. He played in 17 matches, 15 of which he started, and tallied five goals in his first year. Three of those goals were game winners. As his career at the university continued, Morais continued to improve and started all 22 games his sophomore year and had 13 goals for the season.
During both his junior and senior years, Morais earned honors from America East and was named to their All-Conference Second Team. During his final year at UMass Lowell in 2014, he was also named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (now known as United Soccer Coaches) All-East Region Second Team.
Morais then signed with Boston City FC, one of the Northeast region’s teams in the NPSL, in 2016 after attending their tryouts. The league, founded in 2003, was the successor to the Men’s Premiere Soccer League which was originally just a regional league on the West Coast.
The NPSL is commonly recognized as the fourth tier of men’s professional soccer, although the league is not officially affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation, which is the governing body of professional soccer. However, it is acknowledged by the United States Adult Soccer Association as a top amateur league.
The league has 96 teams that span 14 conferences, which are further divided by region. Boston City FC competes in the “Atlantic-White Conference” along with five other teams. The team played in their first season just last year, and they came in second place in the conference.
After trying out for the team, Morais proved to be a powerful presence in the midfield and as an attacker. He tallied seven goals in just 11 games which allowed the team to reach the playoffs in their inaugural season. This was also the most goals scored by any player on the team.
This past summer, Boston City FC won seven games and tied three in their 15 games. Morais played 872 minutes and missed only two games due to injury.
Just like UMass Lowell, the NPSL seeks to develop players’ skills and help grow the game. Morais continues to do just that by taking his experiences at UMass Lowell and putting them to use to assist his teammates on Boston City FC.
While Morais has certainly impressed higher leagues, he is not the only UMass Lowell alum to play at a more advanced level. This past semester, while playing in his senior year for the River Hawks, Wuilito Fernandes became the first soccer player from the school to be drafted by a Major League Soccer (MLS) team. He was selected by FC Dallas in the third round of the 2017 MLS draft. Additionally, Fernandes was called up to the Cape Verde national team this past march.
UMass Lowell’s men’s soccer program continues to improve. They went 13-1-2 last season and won the America East regular season championship for the first time in program history. They earned the number one spot in the America East Preseason Coaches’ poll for the 2017 season.