Forty-nine seconds left. The Commonwealth Coast Conference Quarterfinal match between #6 Roger Williams University and #3 Western New England University on Oct. 28, 2017 was tied 0-0 until the 89th minute until the Golden Bears broke the tie on a made penalty kick at 89:19 to seal the win.
The opponents were evenly matched throughout the game, including five shots on goal by both teams. Although the Hawks knew that they would be a different team in 2018, the ending of this playoff game gave the returners hope for a successful next year.
“I thought it was a really good game… Both teams had a lot of chances to put it away,” Head Coach James Greenslit said. “I think the frustration, the anger and the disappointment of that last game really motivated our guys to be able to do the work to be able to get past that first round game this season.”
The Hawks finished their 2017 season with a 9-7-4 overall record and 5-3-1 in conference play. They were selected this year in the CCC Preseason Coaches’ Poll to finish in the same place they did in 2017.
“There’s plenty of schools that don’t think we’re going to be even close to competing with them… but everyone’s bought in and everyone’s ready to get at it,” said senior captain David Majetich. “If they want to underestimate us, that’s their problem.”
Eight seniors on the 2017 squad graduated this past May, most of whom contributed significantly to the team’s success. Sean Janson led almost all offensive categories in 2017 including goals and shots on goal. Other notable losses for the Hawks were Charlie Mader, Tyler Kuchenbecker and John McCarthy, among others.
“We had some talented players that did graduate but knowing that we were losing them, some of our players put a lot of work in in the offseason,” said Coach Greenslit. “They played a lot during the course of the summer knowing that there’s going to be a lot of competition for a lot of spots.”
Coach Greenslit recruited five freshmen and brought on one transfer and one walk-on this year. He mentioned that although they lost more than they gained, it is all by design. With only two seniors on the roster, he is looking to work with the underclassmen and build a strong program beginning with the younger players.
Even though they lost key players not even a year ago, each current player has stepped up in hopes to fill those vacant roles. Coach Greenslit has noticed that this team probably has the most depth he has ever coached.
“I think that we are going to be able to have a lot of players play in different roles. I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be a set lineup every single game,” said Coach Greenslit.
He also noticed that this is the most physically fit team he’s had here in his time at RWU. Majetich mentioned that since players put in the hard work over the summer, the team has been able to focus more on soccer than fitness and conditioning.
“The more fit we are, the more chances we have to win games and be more dominant on the field,” said fifth year senior John Ryan.
The Hawks opened their season with two wins in their hosted invitational against non-conference opponents, Keene State College and Rhode Island College. They will travel to Dudley, Mass. on Sept. 15 for their first conference matchup against Nichols College, whom they defeated 3-0 in late October last season.
The Hawks have a few goals in mind this season, but, in short, everyone wants to finish near the top of the CCC. The perfect scenario for the Hawks would be to host a first-round tournament game, which means they would need to finish either first- or second-seed. They’ll accept a top four finish but they don’t believe they’ll finish any lower than that.
“Flat out goal is to win the conference championship,” said Majetich.