Men’s soccer seniors have aspirations beyond Hodges Stadium

Andrew Nichols

Casey Caronis came to UNF wanting to play against pro teams and had his dream come true against the Philadelphia Union. Photo by Camille Shaw.
Casey Caronis came to UNF wanting to play against pro teams and had his dream come true against the Philadelphia Union. Photo by Camille Shaw.

Thousands of screaming fans, cameras spread across the stadium and having the privilege to represent a city — all perks that come with being a professional soccer athlete.

This dream may be difficult to attain, but UNF men’s soccer seniors Casey Caronis and Pedro Carneiro hope to make it a reality.

Carneiro grew up playing soccer in Brazil, the country that was renowned worldwide for it.

“My dream since I was a kid was to play,” Carneiro said. “Playing in Brazil would be my biggest dream come true, playing for my team I support, but I know Brazil is a very difficult market.”

Carneiro, who had a great first season as an Osprey, knows how to find the net when it matters. He was responsible for a game winner over UCF, then ranked Top 25, and an Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament game winner in first round of play.

Both Carneiro and Caronis know they have a lot of work ahead of them if the next level of play is to be reached.

Caronis said that the exhibition against Philadelphia Union was a great learning experience and showed him what his weaknesses were. “I can definitely work on getting bigger, faster and stronger,” Caronis said. “Playing against them, they’re such better athletes. The more fit we can get, the more we can accomplish as a team and that’s something I’m trying to work on.”

Pedro Carneiro is hopeful his senior year will be a good one. Photo by Camille Shaw.
Pedro Carneiro is hopeful his senior year will be a good one. Photo by Camille Shaw.

Caronis said a lot of the Union’s goals came in the last five minutes of each half. He said this is something the team needs to work on toward the fall so they can close out games.

Summer leagues are offered to college players who show they have the talent for higher levels of play. These leagues help keep players in shape while doing their summer workout regimen.

Caronis had a chance to do so last year, playing for a National Premier Soccer League team, and will do so again with teammates, including Carneiro, this summer.

“I played last year for Pensacola and this summer I’m going to stay here in Jacksonville,” Caronis said. “We have four other teammates staying here as well so that will be a good experience for us to work hard over the summer together and get closer for the fall.”

Next season will be the duo’s last chance to show their worth on the field in hopes of taking the next step in soccer.

Carneiro said one of the biggest differences between a college and pro player is consistency. He knows the importance of play in the fall.

“Senior season is where a lot of people pay more attention,” Carneiro said. “It’s where your game is the most developed, I think it’s my biggest year. I’m really working hard and I want it to be a good one.”