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Belmar Joseph Concludes Promising Freshman Season

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
Belmar Joseph had a breakout season in his first year as a Wildcat.

Most college freshmen playing a sport need time to adjust to the rigor of being a student-athlete. It takes time to get used to the physical and psychological demands of college soccer. For freshman midfielder Belmar Joseph, the transition was seamless. 

Raised in West Orange, New Jersey, Joseph’s Haitian heritage meant he was always surrounded by soccer.

As a standout midfielder for Cedar Stars Bergen and St. Benedict’s Prep, Joseph was recognized for his leadership, work rate and technical ability. 

In 2021, these traits caught the eye of Tom Carlin, head coach of Villanova men’s soccer. 

“He checked all the boxes of what we look for at Villanova,” Carlin said. “He was an amazing player, [amazing] young man and a great student. We knew he could play, but once we met the family and learned about the kid’s life, he was a no-brainer.” 

While his play in New Jersey earned him a Division I scholarship, Joseph’s international experience was a pivotal chapter in his development. 

Between the ages of 13 and 14, Joseph’s family lived in France. It was in La Ville-Lumière that his soccer education rose to new heights. 

Following their move to Paris, Joseph joined the academy at Paris Saint-Germain. 

PSG has gained a reputation as one of the best sides in Europe and is consistently producing world-class talent. 

“That experience over there was amazing,” Joseph said. “It was a different culture. European soccer is way different and is way better, but I feel like the [U.S.] is catching up to that standard.  I feel like I became a better player mentally, physically and everything all around by just staying there in Europe.” 

Entering his freshman season at Villanova, the skills he learned in Europe were vital.  

When he first arrived on campus, Joseph had to compete for a spot in the starting lineup. Graduate midfielder Marcus Brenes and senior midfielders Jorge Garcia, and Dominic Cyriacks were all above him in the depth chart. All three players were centerpieces of Carlin’s midfield. 

Joseph was expected to come off the bench, but an injury to senior defender Jack Bonas changed that plan.

Following the injury to Bonas, Brenes was converted to a defender. 

With Brennes moved to the backline, a space in the midfield was open. 

Rather than watching and learning from Garcia and Cyriacks, Joseph soon found himself playing next to them. 

“Dom and Jorge, those are two amazing midfielders,” Joseph said. “I really look up to them. Every day on the practice field I ask for advice about the way they play and I feel like their leadership has set us up to be really good next year.”

As the season progressed, Joseph continued to showcase his potential. These performances put him in a similar position as junior striker Balthi Saunders and graduate defender Gray Ricca as one of the first names in Carlin’s starting XI. 

“I feel like as a player you always need to have determination and you need to be eager to start and eager to play,” Joseph said. “That’s the mindset I had coming in. Even though I was a freshman, I always tried to have the mindset of a senior, the mindset of a postgrad or the mindset of a professional player. I was never afraid of being a bench player, I always had the mindset that I’m gonna start, and I’m gonna make an impact for the team.”

Following the game against Western Michigan on Sept. 19, Carlin had high praise for his breakout star. 

“We saw early on that we had to find a way for him in our scheme,” Carlin said. “He wasn’t initially in the lineup, and we saw early on that he brought a lot of intangibles that we needed. His length, his ability to be a two-way guy, being able to run behind but also defend. He is invaluable and has become our key piece.”

Thiry-two days later, Joseph scored his first career goal, against Xavier, on Oct. 21. 

“That was amazing and I was so happy,” Joseph said. “ I could have scored a goal against FDU, but I was very excited that I just scored my first collegiate goal and I was just hoping that there could be many more down the road.” 

Despite the team finishing with a 1-8-7 record, Joseph has high spirits going into next season.

“Next year’s gonna be great,” Joseph said. “We have good freshmen coming and also the current players this year, I feel like they’re determined to fix the errors that we had this year. I know that we all have an objective, every team has an objective to win the Big East. But for us, we’re making it known that we want to win the Big East and we want to go far in the NCAA.” 

Through his experience in France, his roots in New Jersey, and the knowledge obtained from Garcia and Cyriacks, Joseph is ready to help Villanova soccer thrive. 

“He’s a guy that when you look at the future, he makes the future real bright” Carlin said. “As a sophomore, he’s a guy that we are gonna turn to right away. He’s gonna be at the core of everything we do.” 

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