It’s been a historic 2016-2017 season for the Springfield College Pride Men’s Soccer team. To this point the team has compiled an undefeated record and have allowed only four goals against them the entire season.
NEWMAC play begins in November and all the work of the regular season will be un-done unless the Pride can win the NEWMAC and advance into NCAA play.
Springfield will be looking to avenge its loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. After blasting through the NEWMAC tournament, they fell to Tufts 2-0 in the opening round; a disappointment considering that they lost only two games all season.
Senior Harry Davis said the loss is a motivating factor, but the Pride are focused on the present, not the past.
“It’s somewhat of a driving factor, but I think it’s more focusing on us this year. Last year happened in the past, you can’t really focus on that. But one thing we can do is learn from it moving forward this year.”
Springfield is ready to move on and make a deeper run this year. They are in prime position to take the NEWMAC and propel themselves into NCAA tournament to get their revenge from what happened last season.
Player to Watch
A player to keep an eye on heading into tournament play is Christian Schneider. All season long the Pride have had a very spread out attack on offense, all the player’s on the field are a threat to score.
Schneider adds another dimension to the offense. The junior tallied seven goals and six assists through 14 games for the Pride this season. He adds an element of speed to the offense that no other player can offer.
His ability to get into the open field, create, and finish, could play a big factor in tournament games. Defenses will have to respect his speed and creativity around the net, and he is the type of player on the Pride offense that other team’s form a gameplan around.
Senior Cam Powell believes that the Pride have a very balanced offense:
“If a team is trying to look out for one or two specific players, then we have the depth for someone else to step up in those moments. Overall, I’m really pleased with our offensive performance and looking to keep it going.”
The one or two players Powell is referring to is the mold Schneider fills. His goals may not necessarily jump numbers wise, but his impact and pressure he puts on a defense will become more obvious.
This year is championship or bust. Plain and simple. Everything is in line for the Pride to win now. They have depth, leadership, and a team that is driven and motivated from the ending of last year’s season.
It will be important that they continue to defend the way they have all season. It’s been over a month since they have given up a goal and it is that type of effort that can drive them to a tournament win.
Keon Haji, a junior and one of the team’s leaders, stressed the ability of the defense, but also responding offensively.
“Anything could happen. We’re definitely capable of keeping a clean sheet, but also if they [other teams] score I think we’ll be good. That adds good pressure to us like ‘Okay, now we really need to put it into gear and making something happen right now’.”
The Pride are certainly capable of scoring in bunches, but in the tournament they need to throw the first punch, not wait for it to come to them. Starting fast has been a strength for the team this year and that will be important to continue.
A NEWMAC tournament win is just step one. From there the Pride should make a run in the NCAA tournament too. It’s now or never for the team. The players know that, coach knows that, and they will be ready to go come tournament play.