Ben Lavely '06 & Joe Gannon '06
Seniors Ben Lavely (left) and Joe Gannon (right) look to lead the Jeffs to another successful fall.

Men's Soccer Aims for NESCAC Title in 2005

by Lauren Benson, The Amherst Student

September 7, 2005

The Amherst men's soccer team looks to improve upon an outstanding 2004 campaign, where they posted a 10-5 record and earned the No. 6 seed in the NESCAC Postseason Tournament. They led the NESCAC in assists per game with 1.87 and finished second in goals allowed per game (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 Coach Peter Gooding.

Senior forward Joe Gannon was named Second-Team All-NESCAC last season after leading the league with eight assists. A three-year starter, Gannon looks to build off his impressive junior season, in which he tallied a trio of game-winning goals, including one against then 12th-ranked Bowdoin. Senior goalie Greg Lockwood returns as well. He ranked second in the conference in goals against average (0.91) and third in save percentage (0.828) last year. Perhaps the most valuable returnee, however, is junior forward Mike Wohl. He earned Second Team NSCAA/Adidas All-New England and First Team All-NESCAC honors for his goal-scoring ability, notching a conference-best 10 goals last fall. Senior co-captain Ben Lavely will hold down the midfield. "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, Jeremy Kelley and Christian Alexander 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, Joe Addison, 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, senior co-captain Ian Lovett injured his knee during the trip and his return this season is uncertain. "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."

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," added 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 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."

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