Following an early adjustment period, the Springfield College men’s soccer team has visibly started to click and buy into first year head coach Tommy Crabill’s style. His preferences are a bit different than former coach Steffen Siebert, but the season has still been a success for Springfield.
After coming out of the gates at 3-2, the Pride turned things up and went 8-1 in their next nine games to move their record to 11-3.
Two consecutive double-overtime games; a tie against WPI and a loss against Endicott, have the Pride sitting at 11-4-1, with one game remaining on its schedule. The team hosts Wheaton on Saturday. The NEWMAC quarterfinals will be held on Oct. 30 at the venue of the higher seed.
Player to Watch
The beauty of this particular team for the Pride is that so many different player’s can step up big and make the play of the game. The team has a lot of options, but the first player to watch for is one of the team’s leading scorers: Brad Deckel.
Deckel is the team’s leader in points with 13 this year (5 goals, 3 assists) and he played particularly well in the early portion of the year when the team was finding themselves and needed someone to step up.
He presents a threat to score both by himself or by setting up his teammates. The senior has plenty of big game experience and will look to draw on that this time around. “I will look to contribute by being calm and keeping my head in the games,” Deckel said. “We have been in a lot of close games this year and I expect everyone to be resilient and bounce back from anything that happens with better play.”
Christian Schneider is just behind Deckel with 12 points on the season (five goals and two assists). He is another senior who has done a lot for Springfield this season and has played in numerous big games in the past.
Schneider knows what can happen to teams in the later part of the season and he wants to make sure his crew stays focused and has the right mentality moving into postseason play.
“The primary focus for the team is to maintain a level of excellence in the next two weeks. This is the time of year in which fatigue starts to set in,” he said. “It’s up to the leadership of the team to make sure that every day, players are motivated to compete. It’s the young guys job to follow the examples set up by the leaders and upperclassmen on the team.”
Andrew Ma is one of the young guys to look out for in NEWMAC play. Ma came in as a freshman and had an immediate impact with his speed and aggressiveness. He had three goals and two assists on the year, good for third on the team with eight points.
“From what I’ve experienced this season, I really like playing in the NEWMACs. It’s a very competitive league where every game is won by one or two goals,” he said. “I like the fact that every game means so much.”
Ma has had a lot of success so far, but he is not satisfied yet. As the season shifts into postseason play, he wants to extend the season as long as possible. “I’m expecting myself to do everything I can to help the team win and give the seniors a memorable final year.”
It is hard to narrow this team down to one player who will have an impact. Xavi Arroyo, Keith Dixon, Ian Zacharewicz, and Stewart Frank are all defensive guys who can make big plays too. Springfield allows only 0.71 goals per game and each of those guys can make plays on that end of the field.
Emmanuel Agyemang and Joseph Olayneck will both be guys to watch too should they enter the game as subs. Each had two goals on the season and have show the ability to put the ball in the back of the net.
Regardless of the schedule or opponent, one thing is for sure. This team will not go down easy. The six seniors: Deckel, Schneider, Frank, Arroyo, Zacharewicz, and Haji are a talented class and they play hard for each other.
The Pride have a unique balance of talent and experience, and they have a coach who is going to have them prepared for every game they play. Springfield has shown they can compete with the best of the best, and they will be ready for Babson, WPI, or any other NEWMAC opponent.
The team believes in themselves.
“The stakes are higher, but I think the guys and myself are ready for the challenge,” said senior goaltender Stewart Frank.
In a season marked by adjustments and transitions, Springfield has finally reached the point they have been waiting for. Now, they get their chance to break through and shine. It all starts next Tuesday and if there is one thing that is guaranteed with this team, they will be ready for any opponent.
Photo courtesy of Sam Leventhal