@dpriest3: @Pridemenssocer exceeded expectations under first-year head coach Tommy Crabill this season.
Danny Priest @dpriest3 It’s over. Last Saturday afternoon the Springfield College men’s soccer team watched as their season slipped away with a 2-0 loss to Ramapo in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Despite the loss, the game marked the third consecutive season which the Pride reached national tournament play. It was also their second NEWMAC Championship in three seasons, as they won in 2016. Those achievements, along with a 14-5-1 mark to finish the season are extremely impressive accomplishments considering where this season began for Springfield. Over the summer, former head coach Steffen Siebert announced he was resigning as the coach at Springfield and taking a position with U.S. Soccer at their National Training and Development Center in Kansas City. Siebert left with a loaded resume: A record of 80-28-13 over six seasons, one NEWMAC Championship and he played a hand in leading the program to their first ever victory in an NCAA Tournament game. The Pride wound up hiring Tommy Crabill to be their new coach, and though he came in with a lot of experience with the game, he was a first time head coach and he was inheriting a roster that had experienced a lot of change over the off season. The Pride ended up defying expectations. There was no regression, there were no excuses given by Crabill or his player’s, the team re-tooled on the fly and made the most of their season. After getting out to a 3-2 start, Springfield found their groove and went 11-3-1 the rest of the way. Despite entering the NEWMAC Tournament as the two-seed, the Pride beat two talented teams to win the championship. They broke a historic goalless streak to down WPI 1-0 and then went on to defeat top-seeded Babson 1-0. That is an accomplishment the entire team should be proud of. By mid-season, the Pride had hit their stride and it was wonderful to watch. Seniors Brad Deckel and Christian Schneider developed a tremendous chemistry playing off each other in the middle of the field. Xavi Arroyo, Ian Zacharewicz and Keith Dixon anchored the back line of the defense. Senior goaltender Stewart Frank, as he has been for the last four seasons, was a brick wall in net stopping shots. All told, Springfield ended up scoring 1.4 goals per game while allowing only 0.77, and they compiled an 8-3 road record and a 6-2-1 home record at Brock-Affleck field. There was a noticeable difference in how the team played, too. They had a style of offense that featured quick, crisp passes. They displayed patience and generated high quality shots on net. Through all of that, the offense and the defense, it was obvious that the team was playing for more than just wins and losses.They were playing for one another. The Pride will lose six seniors: Deckel, Schneider, Frank, Arroyo, Zacharewicz and Keon Haji. Each walked off the field for the final time Saturday in the maroon and white, and they all had a major impact on the program. Deckel finishes his career having started 71 games and scoring 20 goals in his time with the program. Schneider finishes with 71 career points (21 goals, 29 assists). Frank made 114 saves and allowed just 0.55 goals per game over two full seasons as the starter. Arroyo started 72 games in his four seasons and was consistently a presence on defense for the Pride while also adding two goals and 10 assists in his time. Zacharewicz emerged this year starting all 20 games for the Pride and scoring 3 goals. Haji missed some time this year due to injury and he wound up playing in only seven games and scoring one goal and notching one assist. In his three seasons before however, he started 46 games and and had nine goals and nine assists and was consistently one of the Pride’s most dangerous offensive pieces. Springfield also saw some youngsters emerge such as Justin Breedlove, Andrew Ma, Emmanuel Agyemang, Joseph Olayneck and some other key reserves. All season long this team defied odds and fought back everytime it looked like they were done. They should be proud of that and proud of the success they had. Thank you to the seniors and thank you to Crabill for a tremendous year.