After missing all of last season due to a torn ACL, junior Mike Casey scored the first goal of the 2014 season, and his first in nearly 700 days, for the University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team.

The goal came in the first half against Seton Hall University when he netted a shot from the top of the box, to give his team the 1-0 advantage. In his three games played, Casey also had the game-winning goal against the New Jersey Institute of Technology in a 2-0 victory for the Rams.

He was named co-captain for the second year in a row before the 2014 campaign and his impact is already felt, as he leads the team in points scored with four.

“Last year [being named captain] kind of felt like it was just to make me feel better,” Casey said.  “I couldn’t really do much when I was injured and now I finally feel like it means something and I can actually be part of the team. I think they all respect me for coming back.”

Casey tore his ACL and partially tore his meniscus before the opening game last year.  Rhode Island went on to win just two games and, with Casey’s absence, then junior/current senior Matt Sykes had to do his best to keep his team in the game.  In fact, Sykes was the only player on the team to score multiple goals last year after registering seven.

“All the parts [in my knee] are back together, so I don’t really think about it anymore,” Casey said.  “Sitting out for a full year kind of sucked and I really missed playing.  The worst part was watching the team from the sidelines.  Having to see everything from the sidelines is pretty awful.”

Casey followed in the footsteps of his parents who both graduated from the University of Rhode Island.  His father, Terry Casey, played soccer under URI Hall of Fame coach Geza Henni and his mother, Trish Casey, works on campus as well.

Casey came to Kingston after a successful career at Saint George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island, where he was an All-New England and All-Independent Soccer League First-Team selection.

In his first two years at Rhode Island, he played in all 36 games and started in 23 of them.  During that stretch, Casey recorded six goals and six assists.  Three of those goals came against top-35 teams in the country, and the other three came against rivals University of New Hampshire and University of Massachusetts.

“The thing I missed most of all was being able to practice because it’s something we do as a team everyday,” Casey said.  “Not being able to do that for an entire year is pretty rough, especially having to sit there and pick up cones and soccer balls.”

Casey will take the field on Friday night as the men’s soccer team welcomes Lehigh University at 7 p.m. to open up a four-game home stand.