Following his stellar two-goal performance in a 3-1 victory against Hamilton on September 7th, Luke Protti ’22 was named NESCAC Men’s Soccer Player of the Week. This game was just Protti’s fifth appearance for the Bobcats in his still young career, with his three shots being the first three of his career for Bates.
While two goals is remarkable in any game, it was the manner and speed with which Protti put away his chances that propelled him to NESCAC Player of the Week honors: a mere 39 seconds passed between his first and second goals, both assisted by Beaufils Kimpolo-Pene ’20.
Protti described the sequence in his own words, “We got a cross in the box and the ball bounced around and eventually squirted out to the wing where Myles [Guerrier ’23] beat a defender and clipped a cross back in the box. It was over everyone but Beau chased it down and cut it back and I was able to get a quick shot off and it took a deflection off the leg of a defender and rolled into the bottom right corner.”
While Guerrier played in the critical cross that lead to Protti’s first goal, it is worth adding that Guerrier also scored the evener following a Hamilton goal against the run of play. Protti noted, “As soon as his shot went in I could feel all the momentum shift in our favor.” The goal was Guerrier’s second of the season.
Following Protti’s first goal, Hamilton restarted play and Bates quickly regained control. With quick and smart build-up play, Protti quickly found the ball back at his feet following a superb ball from Kimpolo-Pene.
Describing his second goal, Protti commented, “I was able to beat my defender [off of the wing] and hold him off all the way into the box and then I just tried to put as much power into the shot as I could and it went over the keeper and into the roof of the net.”
Despite his surreal performance, Protti said that he was “surprised” to find out that he had been named NESCAC Player of the Week, as well as the fact that he was the first for Bates since 2012. While it is still early in the season, Protti noted that this performance has been a long time in the making for him and his teammates.
“Last spring and summer, everyone on the team–including myself–worked very hard to become both fitter and more technical on the ball. We lifted, ran, and played all throughout the spring in captain led practices. During the summer, I continued to lift and run with some friends back home, as well as playing with a local U23 team and pick-up whenever I could.
The aspirations and goals of men’s soccer go far beyond individual awards: Protti minced no words in stating that their goal was to win the national championship. “My goal is to do everything I can on and off the field to help us achieve that goal, he said.” He noted that there are other smaller goals that must first be achieved to help the team reach their ultimate goal, but that the idea of working to a “championship standard” is always on their mind as a group.
The Bobcats’ next game is home on Wednesday Sept. 18 night under lights against the Bowdoin Polar Bears.