The Pride played host to Endicott on a crisp fall evening – with temperatures dipping into the 50s – winning a shutout battle, 2-0, to pick up its fourth straight home victory. Tuesday’s game was dedicated to raising awareness for domestic violence, as the color purple was seen all around Brock-Affleck Field.
“We are blessed to be able to play on the best artificial surface in New England,” stated Springfield head coach Tommy Crabill. “There is no place that has a soccer-only pitch, and it allows us to do so much on the field. It allows us to train better together and learn the game better together. It also makes for a very fun and exciting environment to see a great soccer game, regardless of who we are playing against.”
After a scoreless first half in what was a feeling-out process between the two sides, Springfield attacked for two late goals in the second frame to catapult them to their first victory against the Gulls since 2017.
Sophomore Sebastian Correia will get credited with the game-winning goal, striking first for the Pride in the 73rd minute. He took a through ball deep into the attacking half of the field and drilled a shot towards the goal. Trying to clear the ball away, an Endicott defender slid in front of Correia’s shot, accidentally redirecting it away from Gulls goalie Zach Regulbuto and into the back of the net, breaking the scoreless tie. For Correia, scoring his first goal of the season could not have come at a better time.
“It felt great,” Correia offered enthusiastically. “Especially at home under the lights with the fans cheering loud, it just felt right. [The fans] were like an extra guy on the field, they gave us energy when we needed a little push towards the end. They were huge tonight.”
Springfield students and parents came out and made sure they were heard all night long, repeatedly starting chants and yelling loudly, perhaps knowing they were adding fuel to the Pride’s tank while out on the pitch. Crabill, like Correia, gives credit to the fans for aiding the team to victory.
“Springfield College has by far the best support of athletics from the student body,” claimed Crabill. “Our guys have such an open, friendly, and inclusive culture on our team and we all do our best to support every athletic team on campus. I know they all appreciate when the fans come out and cheer us on, it gives them a boost.”
With less than five minutes remaining and still a full tank thanks to the fans, the Pride kept their foot on the throttle, continuing to generate scoring chances as they did all second half. In the 87th minute, sophomore Finn Welch (who was inches away from scoring a few minutes prior) maneuvered his way through the Endicott backline and was tripped up from behind in the box, resulting in a foul. Springfield was rewarded with a penalty kick, and senior Jack Rosenberg stepped up to take it. He confidently approached the ball and buried it in the left corner of the net, bringing the game to its final score and sealing the win for the Pride.
The first half featured a balanced 45 minutes of soccer, including a few budding scoring opportunities from each team. However, the Pride and Gulls defenses were able to steer aside each chance before it posed to be a real threat, keeping the game at 0-0 heading into the break.
Momentum shifted at the half, and Crabill’s crew took control.
“The guys draw a lot of belief out of their smaller plays that lead to big moments. Whenever we see a small play that has the potential to turn into something bigger, we try to take advantage of it. I think they were able to use the small plays such as winning the ball in transition, good 1-on-1 defending, or focusing on creating a turnover to lead to the two goals we had,” Crabill noted.
Early on in the second frame, Endicott was scarily close to taking the lead on a rifle shot in the direction of Pride keeper Clay Knibbs. Knibbs, nevertheless, was on his toes and was able to lunge his body in front of the ball and just barely punch it over the crossbar, neutralizing the Gulls’ scoring threat. He went on to corral the ensuing Endicott corner, and that was the closest they would come to finding the back of the net the rest of the night.
As they seem to do every game, Springfield’s backline of Jack Costa, Pat Silva, Chayne Bruneau, Derrick Arhin, and Correia continuously shut down opposing offenses, boosting the Pride’s chances of victory. Because of their hounding presence, the Gulls were held to a modest three shots on goal.
“The backline is huge, they keep us in games,” Correia began. “They give [Derick and I] confidence to go up forward and attack offensively. They keep opposing attackers at bay to give everyone a lot more freedom to try and score goals like we want to.”
Additionally to stopping all three shots that came his way, Knibbs gobbled up the majority of the Gull’s corner kicks while conducting Costa and company to correct positioning to give them the best chance at shutting down Endicott’s offensive plan.
Springfield (6-4) will travel to Wheaton on Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. kickoff, aiming to pick up their second NEWMAC victory of the season.