With Revamped Coaching, Men’s Soccer Sitting Pretty
By Araba Taylor '13, Contributing Writer
New year, new teammates and high expectations make the fall men’s soccer season one to watch. This past year the team demonstrated their potential with a noteworthy 12-4-1 record. Eleven of those twelve wins were complete shutouts. However, the Jeffs did not only excel on the field, last year they were recognized by the NSCAA for having the highest team GPA in Divisions I, II or III.

By the conclusion of last season, the team notched the third seed in the NESCAC conference tournament with a 6-2-1 NESCAC record and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year. Additionally, the graduating class compiled a record of which no other class can boast: the Class of 2010 had a remarkable 54 wins, 12 ties and only 8 losses throughout their four-year career, making them the winningest class in the history of Amherst soccer.

The 2010 season begins with a much-anticipated game at Bowdoin College on September 11th. And although the Jeffs, on their home turf, beat the Polar Bears last year, the team is cognizant that away from Hitchcock Field things can get much more difficult.

“Our only real goal is to beat Bowdoin on Sept. 11,” said head coach Justin Serpone. “It’s tempting to look at the whole schedule, but the only game that matters is Bowdoin. The last time we went up to Brunswick (in 2008) we got beat badly so we understand how hard it is to win up there.”

However, this stark reality is not enough to deter the excitement of a brand-new season.

“We are looking forward to getting started with the season. I think we have a talented group and great leadership this year,” Serpone explained.

With the loss of four seniors, the team has gained five freshman recruits as well as two new well-qualified and experienced assistant coaches. Andrew Cooper and Shane Rineer are both joining the coaching ranks this season. Cooper, a London native and graduate of Central Connecticut State University, spent summer training periods with Ghana’s Liberty Professionals and Accra Hearts of Oak in 2001 and 2004. More recently, he held his own youth soccer clinics in Connecticut. Rineer earned All-Conference honors twice during his collegiate career with the Eagles of Eastern University. He’s joining Amherst following an assistant coaching position at Villanova University this past year.

Serpone extolled the benefits of these new additions: “We’re excited about having Shane Rineer and Andrew Cooper as part of our staff,” he said. Both of them will bring a lot of good experience to our team and will help us achieve our goals. I truly believe we have one of the best support systems in all of Division III… It really is a great team and we are grateful for everyone’s constant support.”

With all the hype of starting anew, the need for a strategic approach remains.

“The one thing that we need to focus on in the first few weeks is making sure we get as organized defensively as quickly as possible,” noted Serpone. “Success in soccer depends, first and foremost, on not giving up goals. With the short preseason, it’s going to take great team focus to make sure we are all on the same page. I know we are going to score goals this season, but I want to make sure we keep improving on not giving them up as well.”

The team has chosen to enter this season with an increased level of determination, focus and eagerness. Though they have an exciting season of possibility ahead of them, the team has nevertheless decided to take it one game at a time. And with all the obstacles in their path, the men’s soccer team has come focused, prepared and ready to win this season.

Issue 01, Submitted 2010-09-02 16:52:25