As the leaves have started to fall all around campus, that is the cue that the fall sports season only has a few weeks left. At this point in the season, fall teams are working hard to either finish their season on a high note or work towards the NESCAC championship.
Off to their best start since 2005, the men’s soccer team has been red hot since the start of the fall, highlighted by big wins over teams like Middlebury and Hamilton, as well as an extremely close game against Tufts.
Currently, the team has an overall record of 8-4-1 which is already an improvement from last year, when they finished 8-7.
The men still have two games left this season to improve that record. In the NESCAC standings, Bates is placed fourth behind Amherst, Tufts, and Connecticut College who are first, second, and third respectively.
Coach Sheikh is in his second year as head coach, but the excitement of this team has not worn off.
“Second season is much like the first in that there was excitement to see what we had after bringing in some talent.”
Luke Protti ’22 (Amherst, Mass.), a NESCAC player of the week earlier this season, agreed with his coach saying, “We brought in a huge and very talented first-year class and lost 7 seniors. Our team is definitely younger than last year but we are full of great players and super deep.”
Protti’s word choice is not an exaggeration by any means, as the team brought in 17 new players this season. These fresh faces have been vital in giving the team flexibility in terms of who’s on the field.
Since some of the best senior players have faced injuries and have either not been able to play or are out for the season, this has been crucial to Bates’ success.
“We’ve been plagued by the injury bug more than any season I’ve coached, but I’ve been very proud of our “next man to” philosophy, “ said Coach Sheikh.
In spite of the injury bug, the upperclassmen have been leading the underclassmen well and the first years have learned quickly in the process.
One of these upperclassmen leading the way is captain Blaise Marceau’21 (Newton,Mass.) who started all 15 games as a sophomore and has currently started all games this season.
All this excitement around the team has also presented itself in fan turnout, which has thrilled both Coach Sheikh and the team and they hope continues into the championship season in November.
Throughout the season, the members of the men’s team have held each other to a championship standard.
Positivity is also a must on the team, as their games have often been close and are determined n the final minutes.
Protti consistently embodies the high standards that the team has set for itself, and it showed when he was named NESCAC player of the week earlier this season.
Upon learning of the award, Protti said, “I was definitely very surprised and excited. That said, I tried not to think about it too much because we have a long season ahead and a lot of work to do to achieve our goals.”
This Saturday the men face Amherst. Amherst is the current first place team in the NESCAC with 19 NESCAC appearances, 5 NESCAC appearances, 18 NCAA appearances, and one National Championship in 2015. The men have not beaten Amherst since their 2004-2005 season.