Stacked With Talent, Men’s Soccer Looks to Repeat
Issue   |   Wed, 09/04/2013 - 10:37

After a 2012 campaign that ended in heartbreaking fashion following a loss in the NCAA Elite 8, men’s soccer looks to continue their success and NESCAC dominance in 2013.

Amherst finished as NESCAC Champions with a 17-0-3 overall record (8-0-2 in NESCAC play) in 2012, a season that concluded against Williams in the Elite 8. The game was tied 0-0 heading into overtime, remained tied throughout OT and went to penalty kicks, despite the five times Amherst hit the crossbar during regulation. The Lord Jeffs ultimately lost to Williams on penalty kicks, dashing their hopes of winning a national championship. Still, the Jeffs defense finished with the second lowest goals against average in Division III history; Amherst also outscored its opponents 56-3 during the 2012 season and never trailed in any game.

This year, Amherst “has big shoes to fill,” according to Head Coach Justin Serpone, as the Lord Jeffs lose a talented core of senior contributors from last year’s squad. The 2013 team will be without Spencer Noon ’13, Amherst’s all-time leading goal scorer and a 2012 First Team All-American, and outside back Chris Lerner ’13, a Third Team All-American selection.

Defender Federico Sucre ’13 is also gone, as is his twin brother, striker Alejandro Sucre ’13, who was drafted 67th overall by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft.

Given the losses to graduation, Coach Serpone said that “everyone is going to be important to our success this coming season. Everyone is going to have a chance to contribute and I really believe everyone is talented enough to make a play when we need it at some point.”

Julien Aoyama ’14, a defenseman who (like Noon) was named a First Team All-American in 2012 and helped lead the defense, will look to build upon his standout junior season. Likely joining Aoyama on defense will be Brendan Caslin ’14, Ben Norton ’14 and Gabriel Wirz ’15. Forward Jae Heo ’14 also returns, coming off a season in which he scored seven goals, had eight assists and was an integral part of the Amherst attack.

Stalwart goalkeeper Thomas Bull ’16 returns to the net after a dominant freshman season, in which he started all 20 contests, recorded 17 shutouts, and surrendered only three goals, an astonishingly low average of .15 goals allowed per game.

Additionally, midfielders Max Fikke ’14, Milton Rico ’15 and Mikey Hoeksema ’15, as well as Greg Singer ’16, should all see major minutes this season and remain impactful players.

As a result of their strong season last year and returning talent, Amherst is ranked No. 4 nationally this preseason. Amherst comes in as the second best team in the region, behind Williams, ranked No. 3 nationally and No. 1 in the New England region.

Amherst’s first week includes a matchup at New England College on Sept. 4 and the home opener against NESCAC rival Middlebury on Sept. 7. The Lord Jeffs will be determined to avenge their 2012 heartbreaker on Sep. 21, when they travel to Williamstown for a critical early-season matchup. During Homecoming Weekend, the Lord Jeffs will face Wesleyan on Oct. 19.

NESCAC postseason play is set to begin on Nov. 2, while the first round of NCAAs are scheduled to start on Nov. 16.
With the talent and postseason experience that Amherst returns in 2013, the Lord Jeffs could conceivably be playing meaningful games deep into November.