By Brendan Kurie, The Standard Times (New Bedford)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Nate Morgado isn't lacking confidence.
Whether it's how he took the starting goalie job at Bridgewater State from a senior when he was just a freshman, his plan to play college baseball after two years away from the game, or his long-term goal of becoming a CEO.
Then again, much of the Dartmouth High graduate's strong will has come to fruition.
Morgado lasted less than two seasons as a soccer forward before he found his home in front of the net as a 6-year-old, even though he was a sprinter and hurdler and still enjoys challenging his teammates to races.
"I get that all the time," he said with a laugh. "It's funny and a little sad at the same time to know the goalie is one of the fastest kids on the team. I challenge everyone. Everyone always sleeps on me."
By his senior year at Dartmouth — where he competed for the indoor track team and played third base for the baseball team — he was named All-State after notching five shutouts and allowing one goal or fewer in 13 of his 17 games. He was dubbed a Standard-Times Super Teamer, an Eastern Mass. All-Star and the top vote-getter for the Old Colony League All-Stars.
He had big plans for college, but when he started seriously looking at tuition costs, he found Bridgewater State was at the nexus point of his soccer plans and an acceptable amount of student debt when he graduated.
"I wasn't going anywhere ridiculously expensive," he said. "Paying for college myself, a low debt coming out was important so I wouldn't be paying it off the rest of my life. Soccer played a huge part in where I went, but sometimes the cost effects overruled soccer."
Coach Brendan Adams had expressed interest in Morgado during his senior season, but they fell out of touch until May, when Morgado called to see if there would be a spot for him.
Turns out, there was.
Morgado started his second-ever collegiate game, a 4-1 win over Plymouth State, then alternated starts with senior Colin Jepson until the MASCAC Tournament, when Morgado started in both a first-round win and a semifinal loss to cap an 8-9-2 season.
"I'm always expecting to play," Morgado said of his mindset during that first season. "I'm always there giving 100 percent, no matter where I am. After the first game (when he didn't play), I knew where I stood and where I wanted to be and where I should be striving for."
In his 10 starts, Morgado went 4-5-1 as a freshman, finishing with a 2.26 goals against average and a 76.0 save percentage.
"Coming from club soccer, it was a similar level," he said. "I didn't really think it was too big a difference. I was ready for it."
He lowered his goals-against average to 1.39 as a sophomore while starting 18 games, saving 75 percent of the shots he faced with five shutouts.
"The more games you play the more comfortable you are," Morgado said. "Yes, you have to train hard, but (goalie) is more a position of experience. The more you get, the better you are."
But the Bears slipped to 6-10-3 that year and were eliminated in the first round of the MASCAC Tournament.
"That's not where we want to be," Morgado said. "The key is focusing on league games. A lot of the league games, we're the better team. But we play down to other teams. We go against the top teams in New England, or the country, and we do well. Then we come into some games and we play down to their level. We have to be ready for those games."
As a 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior, Morgado has a 1.80 goals-against average and 73.3 save percentage through his first 13 games, as Bridgewater State is off to a 7-6 start, with a 3-2 mark so far in the MASCAC. He has two shutouts, and four games with at least eight saves. His main goal over his last season-and-a-half is to win a MASCAC championship and play in the NCAA Tournament, which the Bears reached the year before Morgado arrived.
As a sophomore, Morgado finished 12th at the New England Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 110 meter hurdles in 16.85 seconds and 10th at the New England Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 55 hurdles in 8.57 seconds.
But this spring he plans to go out for the BSU baseball team, despite having not played organized baseball since his senior year with the Indians.
"I just miss it," he said. "I miss hitting. I miss solid contact hits. I miss throwing kids out at first."
In between a dumbfounding three athletic seasons, Morgado is working toward his degree in accounting. Always comfortable with math, Morgado took an accounting class in high school and was intrigued.
"It was interesting and I took it and ran," he said. "I don't know if I see myself becoming a sit-down accountant. Maybe I'll own my own business or become a CEO. Somewhere in a management position."
But Morgado hasn't given up the hope of playing soccer after his college graduation.
"I'm going to focus myself first as a far as being a professional (player), or maybe semi-pro," he said. "I love playing."