Men's Soccer to Battle Williams
'KEENE, N.H. 09/25/06 - The two top men's soccer teams in New England (Division III) will square off when Keene State hosts Williams College at Owl Athletic Complex on Wednesday (6:30 p.m.). KSC (7-1, 2-0 LEC) is currently ranked 14th nationally and second in New England, while Williams College (4-0, 2-0 NESCAC) is sixth in the nation and first in the region. The game also features two of the region's top veteran coaches. Ron Butcher is in his 36th season at Keene State while Mike Russo is in his 25th season coaching the Ephs.
Wednesday's game will be a rematch of last year's NCAA New England final, where the Ephs blanked the Owls 2-0 in Williamstown. Williams holds a 5-2 lead in the series. Keene State's wins came at home in the 2002 (2-1) and 2004 (4-3) seasons.
Despite the Owls' lofty rankings, Butcher has been displeased with his team's play this season. "We have a team right now that has no identity and is searching to find leaders," Butcher said. "As a coaching staff, we're still experimenting with our line-up eight games into the season. And that's not good."
The Owls, coming off a tough 2-1 Little East win over Southern Maine on Saturday, has struggled finishing plays all season. They missed several breakaway opportunities and needed a late second-half goal by Eric Scott to edge the Huskies. Alex Horne (6-1-13) and Pelse Mesa (5-2-12) lead the team in scoring while Peter Kersker (0.65 GAA) and Cal Mintz (0.71 GAA) have alternated in goal.
The Ephs, who advanced to last year's NCAA quarterfinals, are coming off consecutive shutouts over Western New England (2-0) and Bowdoin (2-0). Senior midfielders Patrick Hoffer (3-1-7) and Tommy Day (2-0-4) lead the team in scoring; goaltender Jeff Castiglione backbones a Williams' defense that has allowed just one goal this season.
Butcher is hoping that the Williams game will bring out the best in his team. "We need our A-plus game against Williams," Butcher said. "The team we're going to face on Wednesday is probably twice as good as the one we faced in the NCAAs. They come off the bench with seven or eight guys and don't miss a beat. When we come off the bench, we miss several beats."
"We have to find a way to get synchronized," he added. "Right now if it was a synchronized swimming class, we'd be sunk."