LUDLOW, Mass. – In many respects, Chris Roswess couldn’t have asked for a better entrance into the world of professional soccer.
Barely seven minutes after hearing the distinct screech of the opening whistle in his pro debut for Western Mass last Saturday, the 25-year-old scored the first goal of his career in a 1-1 draw versus Mass United FC, and celebrated it with a well-rehearsed backflip.
“Oh my God, it felt unbelievable,” Roswess said after the match, “and this was my first professional game, so it was definitely good to get a goal.”
To those who’ve supported the Western Mass outfit, it was only appropriate that the former UMass winger would be the first to score in the Lusitanos’ first American Soccer League match.
After starring at Amherst from 2008-11, the West Springfield, Mass. native featured with the Western Mass PDL side in 2012. Using his trademark speed and canny runs, Roswess brought the Lusitano Stadium faithful off its seats countless times over the course of that summer.
Once the organization decided to field a team in the newly-formed ASL earlier this year, it came as no surprise that one of the players on coach Federico Molinari’s radar was none other than his former charge. Following a successful tryout, Roswess immediately made a favorable impression by scoring and assisting in a 13-0 romp of Greater Lowell United in a preseason friendly.
A week later, Roswess returned to the scoresheet in the club’s opener proper when he darted to the near post, where he poked through a pass from Luke Perry to open the scoring. To Molinari, it was a scene he was sure that he had witnessed before.
“That’s what we practiced,” Molinari said. “I always tell Chris to go near post because he’s fast, and he can anticipate, and you can see, in the first half, he had at least three (chances).”
But the Lusitanos’ coach doesn’t just view Roswess as a scorer, per se. Rather, the Lusitanos’ coach sees Roswess as a tireless two-way player who uses his pace to pitch in defensively.
“He’s doing a lot for the team,” Molinari said after Saturday’s match, “because he’s not just going forward, he’s our first defender, because he defends, too.”
While Roswess’ goal was quickly cancelled out by an own goal a minute later, the affable attacker could only bask in the glow of what will go down as an unforgettable night, especially with the nearby Our Lady of Fatima Parish feast coinciding with the club’s season opener.
“It feels great, yeah, I mean I’ve always dreamt to play professionally and this was my first game, so it was definitely a good feeling,” Roswess said. “(Plus) we have the festa going on right behind us, and we had a good crowd today.”