College Notebook: 6 Williams soccer players receive All-New England nods
When the sun set on Saturday, the Williams College men's hockey team had suffered its first loss of the season and its worst defeat in nearly a year. Twenty-four hours later, the Ephs seemingly righted the ship.
Sunday's 6-4 win over then fourth-ranked Geneseo helped keep the Ephs in the USCHO.com men's national Top 15 poll.
"Sometimes teams need to experience some adversity to find out who they are as players, and teams," Williams coach Bill Kangas said in a release after the win over Geneseo. "It was very nice to bounce back today. It is a game we can build on moving forward."
Williams was ranked 14th last week, but is 13th this week. The Ephs (5-1-0) and Wisconsin-Stevens Point (4-5-1) are now tied for 13th in the Top 15. Stevens Point, losers of two games last week and three straight, tumbled from No. 6 to No. 13.
There is a new No. 1 team in the nation, and Wisconsin-Eau Claire is now one of two undefeated teams in the country. Eau Claire (8-0-1) jumped from third to first, while Norwich (8-1-0) fell from first to second. The Cadets were beaten by Vermont rival Middlebury.
Hobart (6-1-1) is ranked third and Trinity (7-0-0) is ranked fourth. The Bantams are the other undefeated team in the nation.
Williams and Trinity are the only NESCAC teams in the Top 15, but they and Norwich are three of six New England teams in the poll.
Salve Regina is seventh, the University of New England is 10th and New England College is 15th.
Six Williams College soccer players have earned All-New England honors.
Demian Gass, Liam Bardong and Jules Oberg were named to the men's squads, while Victoria Laino, Nkem Iregbulem and Sarah Kelly earned women's honors.
"These three student-athletes certainly are great representatives for us," outgoing Williams women's coach Michelyne Pinard said, "and they are all very deserving of such wonderful region-wide recognition by coaches at other New England schools."
Laino and Iregbulem were both named to the first team, while Kelly was a third-team pick.
Laino, a junior midfielder from Charlotte, Vt., was the 2019 NESCAC player of the year, leading Williams with eight goals and 18 points. Iregbulem, a senior from Torrance, Calif., and Kelly, a senior from Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., helped anchor the Williams back line. Kelly was a first-team selection and an All-American in 2018.
"It's a tremendous and fitting honor for this trio to be recognized as All-New England performers," men's coach Erin Sullivan said in a statement. "Their consistently strong performances this fall, along with that of several other unsung heroes, guided our team to a very competitive season just shy of a national tournament appearance."
Gass and Bardong are seniors, while Oberg is just a sophomore.
Gass, a forward from Houston, started all 17 games for Williams and led the Ephs with seven goals and a team-high 15 points. He had two game-winning goals.
Bardong, a defender from Manhasset, Long Island, started 16 times, and was an All-NESCAC second teamer. His coach called Bardong a "stalwart at centerback."
Oberg, a midfielder from Stockholm, Sweden via Berkshire School in Sheffield, had one goal and two assists for the Ephs. He helped organize the Williams offense.
Middlebury is the top NESCAC team in this week's D3hoops.com national Top 25. The Panthers, who are 7-0, moved from fifth to fourth.
Amherst, last week's No. 3 team, fell to 14th after losing at home to Westfield State.
Swarthmore received 22 of 25 first-place votes and is the No. 1 team in the nation. Emory got the other three votes and is second.
Wittenburg, Middlebury and St. Thomas (Minn.) round out the top five.
While Williams is not in the Top 25, former Williams assistant coach Josh Loeffler has guided Johns Hopkins to the No. 15 spot in this week's poll. The Blue Jays were 22nd last week. Another ex-Eph assistant, Dale Wellman, has his Nebraska Wesleyan team ranked sixth, up from eighth.
Nichols (No. 7) and WPI (No. 22) are the other New England teams ranked in the Top 25. Hamilton and Babson are just outside the Top 25 rankings.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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