Just moments before the opening of every soccer match that the Springfield College men’s soccer team takes part in there are a few things that happen. First, the starting lineups are introduced, bringing starting goalie Brett Bascom to midfield for the National Anthem.
Next, all the players shake the officials’ hands and immediately following this, Bascom– commonly referred to within the team as “Bacon”–makes eye contact with his teammate and role model Chris Walton. From here, Bascom athletically performs a somersault and comes out of it in a dead sprint at Walton. Walton sprints back at him and they meet in the middle for a triumphant chest bump, marking one of the tightest player bonds on the Pride’s team: the starting and backup goalies.
Chris Walton and Brett Bascom are a goalie tandem like no other. Coming in as a freshman, Walton beat out junior at the time Drew Kelleher and won the starting spot, playing in every game except for one during his freshman and sophomore seasons. The 6-foot-5-inch goalkeeper from Cromwell, Conn. posted a 1.71 goals against average (GAA) and made 140 saves as a freshman and had a 1.32 GAA with 85 saves in his sophomore season with the Pride.
Just like Walton had done to Kelleher, Bascom beat out Walton for the starting job as a freshman. Instead of putting his head down, Walton did the exact opposite and continued to work hard day in and day out.
“He has absolutely been helping Bacon out, making Bacon better. And when he needs to step up in the goal, he’s stepping up,” said Coach Steffen Seibert of his senior leader. “It is amazing how Chris is carrying our goalies right now. I trust him so much.”
At the end of last season, Seibert approached Walton and asked him to be next year’s goalie coach. Being the type of player that he is, Walton took on his new role as a player-coach with excitement. Every day at practice, Walton gets the goalies together and runs through a routine including drills that the goalies enjoy doing. Although Walton makes Bascom work hard, he knows what the No. 1 priority is at all times.
“I think the biggest thing is making sure he’s having fun,” said Walton. “All of us get frustrated, it’s a tough position, and I just make sure he’s having a good time and staying focused.”
Bascom has played very well his first two seasons as the Pride’s last line of defense. As a new face on the field for Springfield, Bascom posted a 0.95 GAA and only allowed 16 goals through 17 starts. This season, the 6-foot-2-inch Recreational Management major from New London, N.H. has had a 1.65 GAA and 13 goals allowed through eight games.
Despite all of his successes, Bascom is humble and never hesitant to admit who deserves the credit.
“Chris changed my life basically from last year to this year. He’s one of the biggest role models I’ve had,” said Bascom. “It’s not just me in the net. We do it together.”
Bascom, Walton, Seibert and the rest of the Pride look to battle back to the top of the NEWMAC standings, in need of just three in league victories to reach the postseason tournament and have a chance at defending last season’s NEWMAC Championship.
As for the “chest bump,” Walton says “it’s something that always happens and gets us fired up for the games.”