The Springfield College men’s soccer team (ranked No. 3 in the NEWMAC) will travel to Wellesley, MASS., in a rematch of their regular-season finale last Saturday, to take on the Beavers of Babson (No. 2) in the NEWMAC semifinals at Hartwell-Rogers Field on Thursday afternoon. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
This season has been a prosperous one for the Pride (10-6, 4-3), returning to the pitch for a full slate of games for the first time since 2019. During that season in 2019, Springfield finished with a substandard record of 4-13-1 in their 2nd season under head coach Tommy Crabill.
Now in his 4th year, the veteran coach has led his squad to an impressive turnaround behind a lockdown defensive unit featuring a variety of upperclassmen leadership.
Senior Jack Costa, junior Pat Silva, graduate student Derick Arhin and junior Chayne Bruneau are just a few of the several names to have made an impact defensively for the Pride this season, all led by junior goalkeeper Clay Knibbs, who has put together an unbelievable campaign in his second full year in the box – only giving up 11 goals in his 15 games played this year, good for a .814 save percentage.
Knibbs and the Springfield defense has certainly established themselves as one of the best overall components of any team in the northeast, and is a huge reason as to why they found themselves in the top-5 in the latest NCAA regional rankings.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Pride will enter the postseason down one of their most important threats, sophomore Finn Welch. Welch suffered a leg injury in the team’s 7-1 victory over Castleton on October 26.
Furthermore, Springfield’s arsenal of goal-scoring weapons has plenty of depth to fill Welch’s absence. First-year Maitoe Suppasuesanguan (3 goals, 1 assist), junior Aiden Casinghino (6 goals, 1 assist), senior Andrew Ma (3 goals, 2 assists) and senior Jack Rosenberg (5 goals, 2 assists) all pose as big threats to strike at any moment during a match.
During the Pride’s last matchup with Babson, only five short days ago on October 30, Springfield outshot the Beavers 8-2 and dominated time of possession for the majority of the contest. There is no doubt in coach Crabill and the Pride’s minds that they have a great shot at winning on Thursday, and getting revenge on Babson for this past weekend’s 1-0 defeat.
In 2019, Springfield scraped together 18 goals all season. This year, the Pride have totaled 38 goals, 20 more than two years ago. The improvement is clear, and the jump in contribution from all members across the board has been significant. Springfield is geared to make yet another run at a NEWMAC title.
The last time the Pride faced Babson in a NEWMAC tournament game was in 2018, in Crabill’s first year at the helm. Springfield won that game 1-0, a contest that was also played on the Beaver’s home pitch, securing them as conference champions for that season. History will look to repeat itself Thursday with the Pride aiming to take down Babson once again.
The winner of this matchup will then move on to face the victor of the other semifinal – No. 4 Coast Guard (12-4-1, 4-3) or No. 1 MIT (13-3-1, 5-1-1) – in the NEWMAC championship, which will be held at the highest seed’s home field on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Photo: Danielle Schmelling/The Student