With 19:56 remaining in a September 15 matchup against Western Connecticut, Tim Wood launched a shot into the back of the net, giving Springfield College’s men’s soccer squad a slim 1-0 lead. The sophomore midfielder’s late goal earned the Pride more than just a narrow victory; it earned them a spot in the Springfield College history books.
With the 1-0 win over Colonials, the Pride notched their fifth straight win to open the season – a program record. Now 7-2 (1-1 NEWMAC) the team is playing with a fire unlike any other, and they’re ready to take the conference by storm.
“Obviously [setting a program record] is great,” Springfield men’s soccer coach Steffen Siebert said. “It just motivates us more to do even better for the rest of the year.”
Siebert added that setting the program record at home under the lights has been the high point of the season, saying that there was “a buzz amongst the team”.
Any casual fan could look at the stat sheet and see that this year’s team is a night-and-day difference than that of last year. In 19 total contests last year, the Pride totaled just eight wins. Just eight games deep into the 2015 season, and they’ve strung together seven wins (good for an astounding .875 winning percentage).
“For us, we don’t really look at the wins and losses. We just look at how we are doing game in and game out,” Siebert said. “If you really look at the record closer last year, we really did quite well on the field. We created as many opportunities, we didn’t get as many shots as we did this year. But obviously, we’re just happy, and we’re trying to get a couple more.”
As Siebert mentioned, the shots are falling for the Pride more this year compared to last. Their offense has helped put other teams away before the opponents get a chance to put a shot on net. Springfield has already scored 24 goals on the season at a rate of 3.0 goals per game.
“It’s really a team effort,” Siebert said. “As you see, we’ve got a lot of defenders getting assists, scoring goals and helping to create those opportunities. If you really look, I know Luke [Alvaro] has scored quite a few, but everyone is adding goals or assists.”
Alvaro, a junior forward, is leading the pack in scoring. His eight goals lead the squad, and he’s tied for the lead in assists at three. In his sophomore campaign, he scored just three goals all season.
“What’s actually interesting is he was always a great player and always great on the ball,” Siebert explained in regards to Alvaro. “We’ve really been focusing on his game off the ball, and his defensive work. Now he just wins the ball higher up the field, and that’s helping him earn more scoring opportunities because he’s not 40, 50 yards away from the net.”
While Alvaro has improved from a defensive standpoint, the entire team has, too. Siebert has built his team to work from the goalie up, and play a defensive style of ball which helps the offense in return.
“I repeat myself a bit, but it’s a team effort,” Siebert explained. “As a team, [defense] is one of our principles, and we try and work as hard as we can tactically to be in the right spot. It’s not just about running hard, it’s running smart. If all eleven players find the spot they need to be, we have a huge chance of not getting scored on.”
An intelligent defense, which has given up just three goals over the course of the first nine games, has only helped the play of senior captain and lights-out goalkeeper Billy Schmid. He’s given up just two goals in 651.34 minutes of action. What may be more of a testament to the Pride’s defense than to Schmid is the fact that he’s had to make just 13 saves all year.
“If you look at the stat sheet, you will see that Billy doesn’t make more than one or two saves per game,” Siebert explained. “It’s not just that the team is working really hard for him, he’s also really good at communicating and making sure that he doesn’t have to save a ball by putting other players in the right spot. He’s kind of like a coach on the field.”
Whether it’s the defense or offense that has led the Pride this season, both have clicked when playing on Brock-Affleck Field. Battling it out in front of a friendly crowd has proved to be an advantage for Springfield, as the Pride are 5-1 at home.
“Home field is a huge benefit for us,” Siebert said. “We have a lot of fans coming out. It’s been more than normal the amount of fans we have coming out; it’s from parents, it’s from students. It’s unbelievable to have that home support here. I’m really thankful for everybody that comes out.”
Springfield’s next eight games has the Pride facing off against a NEWMAC foe four times, the first of these conference matchups being Saturday, October 3 against Clark University. Already showing that they are no joke this season, the Pride will look to continue their winning ways a conference play picks up.
“We want to do what we do,” Siebert said. “We want to get better every single day and see what happens. That’s kind of our motto – getting better every day.”