Unprecedented Success

by Brett Johnson, Sports Editor

No RWU men’s soccer team since 2000 has come close to a winning streak as long as the 2018 team is currently experiencing. As of Tuesday, Oct. 2, the Hawks are 11-0 overall and 2-0 in Commonwealth Coast Conference play.

Their historic season began with three straight wins in their season-opening invitational against Keene State College, Rhode Island College and Worcester State University. They grabbed two more non-conference wins against Husson University and MIT before nudging out their first CCC win against Nichols College on the road.

Of their last five games, only one has been a conference matchup against the University of New England. Their other four non-conference wins came against Wheaton College, Johnson and Wales University, WPI and Emmanuel College.

“I think it’s a testament of the hard work the players put in during the offseason to get ready for the season and the commitment to the work they put in when we’re out there training,” Head Coach James Greenslit said. “I think the boys are hungry. They know we haven’t proven anything.”

The ball has been rolling in the Hawks’ favor, but it’s not all on accident. The Hawks have been creating their own opportunities. Their conditioning work in the offseason has been apparent. They have blown by opponents’ defenses and worn them out to secure late-game wins. 

In fact, the Hawks have scored 10 of their 19 total goals in the last 10 minutes of regulation or in overtime. They won in overtime against MIT and WPI and outlasted Nichols College in double overtime. 

But won’t the Hawks be burnt out by the end of season with all of the extra time they’ve had to play or final pushes? Coach Greenslit doesn’t think so.

“I think that if you look at our statistics in the second half and in overtime, it really shows how fit of a team we are and we do it in strength in numbers where we play a lot of players… so we’ve seemingly worn teams down in the second half of games,” he said.

Twenty-six Hawks have seen the field this season and all but three have recorded triple-digit minutes of playing time. 

This year’s squad takes the old sports adage “defense wins ballgames” quite seriously. In 11 games, their opponents have only scored five goals. While their two solid goalkeepers, Edmund Geschickter and James Lee, do deserve some praise, everyone is active on defense.

“It has been a point of emphasis that all players are focused on both sides of the ball, whether it be attacking or defending, and I think the team has really bought into that philosophy,” Coach Greenslit said. “The first line of defense is our front line. They have to do as much work defensively as the backline and the goalkeeping… that’s really helped us be able to limit the quality opportunities the other teams have gotten.” 

After their game against Bridgewater State University on Oct. 3, the Hawks will finish the regular season with six straight conference games, half of which will be played on their home turf. All of their opponents, except Curry College, were ranked higher in the CCC Coaches’ Preseason Poll.

“This is why we play a good schedule at the beginning of the season. We want to be ready to really end the season on a good stretch,” Coach Greenslit said.

Their sights are glued to the CCC championship, but they must be successful in what may be their toughest challenge yet — the conference stretch.