Big upperclassman core is set to lead Springfield College men’s soccer deep into the national tournament this season

Gage Nutter
@GageNutter

As usual, the Pride has started the season on fire offensively and rock solid defensively. In the team’s first four games of the season, the squad has outscored teams 15-2. Most of those goals came in the team’s season opening 9-1 blowout win against Lasell, but Springfield has been steady in the other three games as well.

The Pride have continued to play consistently at a high level the last three years by sticking to their identity as a conditioned team that can run down the field with anyone.

“We are a high pressing team, that’s no secret. Every team we play knows we are going to press them hard,” explained junior Christian Schieder. “Coach is able to recruit players with that mentality. People that can sprint 90 minutes and get to the ball.”

Coming into the team’s 2017 campaign, 18 of the teams 30 players are upperclassmen. Among those players are standouts like Schneider, Brad Deckel, Cam Powell, Danny Murphy and many more.

With so many upperclassmen on the squad, many players have had the opportunity to step up and lead the new class. In years past, Siebert admits that he had to be more involved in holding players accountable. But with one of the most experienced rosters he has ever had, he has happily noticed that the upperclassmen have taken it upon themselves to hold each other accountable.

“The guys take care of the culture. It’s not me taking care of it anymore,” said Siebert. “The boys now know what we stand for and what we believe in. The message comes from them. Having so many juniors and seniors on the team playing is something new for us. We got the recruiting classes in step by step and we are now in a place where we have a really healthy program. Its incredible to see the culture that the upperclassmen have fostered.”

Luke Alvaro was immensely important to the Pride’s offensive output last season. The All-American scored 18 of the team’s 69 goals last year, a considerable chunk of the team’s offense. With the graduation of Alvaro, a considerable amount of the goal scoring will have to be delegated to the rest of the team.

But when it comes to Sieberts coaching style, the game plan doesn’t conform to players, players conform to the gameplan. This idea has been working wonderfully for the Pride early on this season.

“I would say 90% of the goals [Alvaro] scored can be attributed to him being in the right spot,” said Siebert. “It wasn’t that he did something special. That’s really good for the underclassmen to see that, again he was a phenomenal soccer player, he was an All-American, but it’s something we can teach them.”

“We have multiple people trying to pick up those spots right now. Christian Schneider who has been starting for two years really wants to go and step in there. It’s not that we have to find someone to fill his shoes. If we just teach the forwards everything that we taught Luke, we should be okay.”

It’s very difficult to get on the field as a freshman while participating in collegiate athletics, especially on the Springfield men’s soccer team. However, the freshman class, according to Siebert, has already shown that they have the ability to compete early on at this level.

“The college game in general is already a big step, and then with our team we have a lot of tactics [to learn],” said Siebert. “They are trying to learn that as much as they can and some guys are already starting and have gotten chances. There will be more chances for them as well and I feel like a lot of them are going to be very helpful down the line in tournament games.”

With a lot of depth at forward, it’s tough to tell who is going to lead the pack. But as a sophomore last year, Schieder ended the season with 23 points. The only player ahead of him in the points column was the All-American Alvaro. For the past two years, Schneider has been able to contribute at a high level and play with one of the best players in Division III, Alvaro. Now that he has graduated, Schneider is poised to lead the team in points this season. He is definitely a player to keep an eye on as the year progresses.

A breakout player most people don’t have on their radar is Jimmy Wilcox. Wilcox is coming off a season ending ACL injury that he suffered in the team’s season opener last year against Lasell. Coming into this year with a full season and the off-season to recover, Wilcox is poised to breakout. In the Pride’s first two games, he has been one of the first two or three guys off the bench. As the season progresses, don’t be surprised if you see Wilcox getting big minutes down the stretch and into tournament season.

Looking forward to what could be in store for the program this season, all indications point to good things. With the Bill Belichick of collegiate soccer in Siebert at the helm of the program, supplemented by a huge core of battle tested upperclassmen that have played in numerous big games in the postseason. This season for Pride men’s soccer is poised to potentially be one of the best in the Siebert-era.

 

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