When the Bowdoin men’s soccer team has needed a big goal this season, it seems Eddie Jones usually has done something to help get it.

Jones, who a grew up in Scarborough, has played a major role in the Polar Bears’ march to this weekend’s NCAA Division III Final Four in San Antonio.

“In tight games this year, he really has found an extra gear,” Bowdoin Coach Fran O’Leary said. “Eddie is a terrific athlete, with great pace and excellent dribbling abilities. But I think his biggest strength is his competitive nature.”

Jones simply doesn’t want to let his teammates down.

“You have to play hard because all of them are playing their hardest,” he said.

Jones, a junior, has set career highs in both goals (7) and assists (6) while moving from the front line to outside midfielder on the left side of Bowdoin’s formation.

“We moved Eddie from out front to out wide, and his pace has been a handful,” O’Leary said. “I think he’s found a home out there. He’s picked up from a scoring point of view, but it also opens the defenses up for other players.”

Prior to this season, Jones, who helped Scarborough win the first of its first three Class A state championships in 2005, always played forward.

“He was a striker, and we wanted to add (speed) out wide,” O’Leary said. “With Eddie and Tim Prior, we have two guys out wide who have the pace to get beyond (the defense).”

This season, Jones has scored two winning goals and he’s set up four other winning goals with his passes.

“I was a little nervous at first just because there’s a lot more defensive responsibilities,” he said. “But I’m starting to love running up and down the field playing defense.”

“Sometimes, when you move a forward back, you’re concerned,” O’Leary said. “You’re excited what they give you offensively, but you’re concerned about their appetite to defend. Eddie has a terrific appetite to compete, and that translates into a very good all-around player, one who can attack and still have the appetite to come back and defend.”

Mark Diaz, who has coached the Scarborough boys’ soccer team for the past 12 seasons, isn’t surprised Jones has thrived at the college level.

“He loves the game as much as anyone I’ve been around does,” he said.

“I see him working on his game on the turf field down here. It will be 90 degrees out and he’s doing sprints and taking shots from different angles. He has an unbelievable passion for the game.”

O’Leary’s preference to play dominant players like Jones to the outside wings on offense and defense are big reasons for the team’s success this season.

“A lot of teams will have strength down the middle, but a lot of times they will lack quality in the wide areas,” O’Leary said. “A major part of our success this season is our quality in the wide areas. … Some teams tend to hide a player out wide, but we feel we have players on the outside who can impact.”

When Jones lined up at striker in the past, he’d often have to hang out at the top of the formation waiting for his team to gain possession of the ball.

Now, he seldom has to wait to get involved in the play.

“You try to nick the ball off them, but it’s more like pinning their defense in so that when the ball does come out, you’re ready to run,” he said.

“I’m back into action up and down. There was a lot of waiting before, and there is very little now.”

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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