Assistant Sports Editor
Freshman year is supposed to be a year of adjustment for college students as they settle into a new situation, with new people, in a new place. For three freshmen on this year’s men’s soccer team, that has not been the case.
Brett Bascom, Zach Dutter and Kevin Nowak are proving that age and experience are overrated on the soccer field, as the trio of newcomers has been outstanding for the Pride. Dutter and Nowak, both midfielders, have brought offensive firepower off the bench and are currently tied for the team lead in points with nine each.
Dutter, in particular, has provided some important playing time. Of the Dallas, Penn. native’s four goals, two have been game-winners. Both Dutter and Nowak attribute this to being in the right place at the right time and being prepared.
“We really focus on the film sessions and where to be,” says Nowak of their preparation. “It’s not just about when you have the ball, it’s about being in the right place at the right time.”
“For instance,” added Dutter, “if [Kevin] is going down the side, I need to be right on the PK spot ready for the ball when he kicks it. We don’t start so when we’re out there, we’re working really hard.”
The story has been a little different for Bascom, who replaced incumbent goalkeeper Chris Walton earlier this season. Walton had been the starter for the last two seasons, but was suspended for one game earlier this season for violation of a team rule. Bascom posted a shutout in that game and then went 515 minutes before allowing a goal.
The New London, N.H. native said that Walton has been nothing but supportive and a great asset to have.
“It’s the best support that I think I could possibly have,” said Bascom of the presence of Walton behind him and captain David Chessen in front of him. “They’ve been teachers, guides, idols to me.”
Coach Peter Haley, now in his 27th season, echoed that.
“Chris has been very positive, very supportive and has been a great team player,” said Haley. “If you watch any of our games, he’s the first one off the bench to congratulate and he is there to help Brett during games. I am very proud of him, and I know Brett is very thankful for that as well.”
As far as the adjustment goes, these three freshmen are having no trouble adjusting thanks to the support of teammates, each other and policies within the team.
“Soccer has helped,” said Nowak of the adjustment. “We have certain ‘Babson-bound’ hours where we have to study for seven hours a week and keep a log, so that helped right off the bat. I’m more organized now than I was in high school.”
The ‘Babson-bound’ hours have helped Bascom as well.
“It helps us stay on our game in the classroom so we can stay on the team,” added Bascom.
Outside of soccer, all three of them play on an intramural flag-football team together and spend a lot of time with their teammates.
“We are very team-oriented here,” said Nowak. “Everything is with the guys.”
It has been the maturity, as well as the firepower, of these three young players that have helped the Pride to such a successful start.
Now the Pride will need a successful finish out of the three first-year players.
Springfield has ensured its self at least a third-place finish in the conference as the Pride gear up for the NEWMAC Tournament.
The NEWMAC Tournament begins Wednesday, Nov. 2 with quarterfinal action.
Jimmy Kelley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org