| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Robert Morris sophomore Brett getting his kicks

Jason Cohn | Robert Morris Athletics
Robert Morris sophomore Neco Brett leads NCAA Division I players with 34 points (13 goals, eight assists) this season.

College Football Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.


Where Robert Morris sophomore Neco Brett ranks in Division I soccer:

Category No. Rank

Points 34 1

Points per game 2.00 1

Goals 13 tie 2

Goals per game 0.76 tie 4

Assists 8 tie 12

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Chuck Curti
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 10:21 p.m.

The adjustment wasn't going to be easy, and Neco Brett knew it. He was leaving his native Jamaica to attend college 1,500 miles away in a foreign country.

At least he had soccer. Until he assimilated into life at Robert Morris, he could find solace in the game he had played fanatically since age 6.

“I could see it in preseason his freshman year,” said coach Bill Denniston, who recruited Brett and two other Jamaicans on the current roster through a contact he made while coaching at Alderson Broaddus 20 years ago. “He's got speed, he's got strength, ability and skill and determination. He's at the next level.”

But four days before his first game, Brett was injured. He missed the first two games, and even when he returned, he never was completely healthy. He missed four more games throughout the season, and his struggles on and off the pitch began to take their toll.

“Then, I wasn't eating as much and sleeping and so forth,” Brett said. “I was thinking coach must be really upset giving me a full scholarship. It's like a waste of money.”

Brett didn't register a single point as a freshman.

Rather than wilt under the disappointment, he decided it was time to get tough. Before going back to Jamaica for the summer, Brett promised Denniston he would lead the team in scoring in 2013.

He has made good on that vow — and then some.

Heading into the final week of the regular season, the sophomore is leading NCAA Division I with 34 points (13 goals, eight assists). He needs three points in Sunday's finale at St. Francis (Pa.) to tie the RMU single-season mark.

Brett knew he could compete. For him, as with many other Jamaican boys, soccer was his life. Most days during his youth, he was out the door early — sometimes without the luxury of shoes — to play with his friends. The competition often lasted until dusk without even a passing thought about stopping to eat.

His persistence and talent led to spots on Jamaica's Under-17, U-20 and U-23 teams, but he needed a breakthrough at RMU. He finally got his first goal in the Colonials' second game this season.

“I just had to get myself together, and everything would be fine,” Brett said. “Scoring goals would not be a problem. You just need to score one, then you just need to carry on.”

That he has. His 13 goals are just two fewer than the Colonials had as a team in 2012. In back-to-back wins, 3-1 over Buffalo and 2-1 over George Washington, Brett had all five goals. Even Northeast Conference champion Central Connecticut State had no answer. Brett recorded six shots and the Colonials' only goal in a 2-1 loss this past Saturday.

“They couldn't stop him,” Denniston said, “and they're screaming his name every five seconds.”

The Colonials (8-7-2 overall, 2-4-0 NEC) won't qualify for the NEC Tournament, but they are assured of finishing no worse than .500 — a vast improvement from last year's 5-12-2 showing. Brett is confident of an even better season next year for the team and himself.

Denniston acknowledged that Brett may have a tougher time getting as many good looks at the goal now that he's known. He already has noticed increased attention from opposing defenders.

Brett, however, welcomes the challenge. Comfortable in the U.S. and again able to focus on his first love, he has his eye on a much loftier goal total.

“Next season,” he said, “I have to set my target to 25.”

Chuck Curti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. State police say escaped Armstrong County inmate has been captured
  2. Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
  3. Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
  4. Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
  5. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  6. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
  7. Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
  8. Emails among Governor Wolf’s aides reveal concern over AG Kane
  9. Pirates notebook: Blanton introduced; Worley designated for assignment
  10. Warrant issued for man accused of killing Brookline woman
  11. At least 3 people, including 12-year-old boy, wounded in Homewood shooting