Though the end of the season left a bad taste in their mouths, the men’s soccer team had a few excellent statistics. They led the NESCAC in assists per game with 1.87 and came in second with fewest goals allowed per game with 0.93. Fortunately, the athletes who led Amherst in those categories have returned and are prepared for another great season. “I think the team is quite well-balanced, and we’re deep at our positions,” said Co-Head Coach Peter Gooding.
Returning forward Joe Gannon ’06 was named to the Second-Team All-NESCAC last season. He led the league with eight assists and 0.53 assists per game. Also, one of Gannon’s three game-winning goals lifted the Jeffs over Bowdoin College in the regular season. At the time, the Polar Bears were ranked 12th in the nation.
Amherst also returns its starting goalie this year. Greg Lockwood ’06 ranked second in the conference in goals against average (0.91) and third in save percentage (0.828). Two of his three shutouts came against conference foes Bowdoin and Tufts University.
Perhaps the most valuable returnee, however, is forward Mike Wohl ’07. Wohl earned Second Team NSCAA/Adidas All-New England and First Team All-NESCAC honors for his goal-scoring ability. His 10 goals and 0.67 goals per game average were tied for the most in the NES-
The most notable losses due to graduation are former captains Matt Langione ’05 and Andrew Syfu ’05. Nevertheless, 25 players from last year’s roster did not graduate, including senior co-captain midfielders Ben Lavely and Ian Lovett. “With a core senior class that has accumulated over 100 starts throughout their career, the team returns with excellent leadership and experience,” said Lavely. “Gannon and Wohl look to regain their positions once again atop league scoring as John Kneeland ’08, Jeremey Kelley ’06 and Christian Alexander ’06 anchor the defense in front of Lockwood.”
In addition to returning many of their key players, the Jeffs welcome several new players to their squad. Jake Duker, Rory O’Connor, Grayson Holland, Nicholas Lynch, John Redmond and Jeff Grover are all first-years who could make an impact this season.
Amherst will also benefit from its work in the off-season. This summer the Jeffs went to France and Spain to work on their skills as a team. Unfortunately, Lovett injured his knee during the trip and his return this season is uncertain. Minus a captain, the Jeffs managed to have a great experience. “We played reserve and U-19 teams, who are paid professionals,” said Lockwood. “Getting that type of competition with those special players is very difficult in the states. I had a blast; it was a dream come true for me, and I think it gave me invaluable preparation for the season.”
“Just having spent 12 days in Europe has given us a lot of valuable experience,” added Wohl. The Jeffs hope to use that experience against competitive conference teams. “We should be a fairly strong team with nearly all of last year’s starters coming back,” said Alexander.
Amherst has set the bar high for 2005. “We are looking forward to competing for the NESCAC title and ultimately playing in the NCAA Tournament,” said Wohl. The Jeffs are optimistic that they will have a better performance in the postseason this year. “We’ve had very good seasons and bad luck in the playoffs the past two years,” said Peter Gooding. “We’re going to reevaluate a little bit this season. As the playoffs approach, we’re going to have a stronger frame of mind.”
For now, Amherst must set its sights on Sept. 10’s season opener. The Jeffs host the Trinity College Bantams at Hitchcock Field. “I’m very much looking forward to this season,” said Co-Head Coach Milton Gooding. “The team is filled with veterans who’ve done a tremendous job in the past. It’s also exciting to welcome a group of very talented first-years. We should be extremely competitive and it’s a season we look forward to with great anticipation.”