Williams men's soccer looking to make next step in 2017

WILLIAMSTOWN — It has been three years since the Williams College men's soccer team has won a NESCAC tournament game, three years since it has reached the NCAA Division III tournament and nine years since it has won a NESCAC tournament championship.

"Our senior class, in particular, has something to prove," co-captain Tobias Muellers said. "We haven't won a playoff game yet. We've been knocked out in the first round.

"We need to make a change, and the best way to make that change is to take it into our hands and make everyone accountable."

Williams finished 9-4-1 in coach Erin Sullivan's second year at the Williams helm. The Ephs graduated eight players last year and have six first-year players. The coach said he is excited for what the season ahead might bring.

"This is a new chapter, a new campaign with an interesting blend of newcomers," said Sullivan. "So far, so good.

"NESCAC is a grind, so one day at a time. We're certainly excited for that opener at Trinity"

The Ephs open their season on Saturday in Hartford, Conn., against the Bantams, and will play four games on the road before the home opener on Sept. 23. What a home opener that is — as the Ephs will host arch-rival Amherst that day.

"You coach every game on its own merits," said Sullivan. "Last year, we had the first six at home, and this year we have four on the road. It's a different script, that's for sure."

A year ago, Williams opened with six consecutive home games. Two of those six were NESCAC games.

This season, three of those first four road games are conference games. Williams will be at Trinity, Colby and Bowdoin. The lone non-league game will be next Wednesday night at RPI.

"I think we're ready to adopt this road warriors mentality," co-captain Tom Young, a midfielder, said. "NESCAC games are obviously a notch above, because every game is so important. I think the conference is going to be incredibly close this year. I think last year's NESCAC [senior] class, across the board, graduated a lot of good players. I think it's pretty open this year.

"So I think every game is important."

The Ephs graduated three All-NESCAC picks from 2016. Forward Mohammed Rashid was a first-team selection, while midfielder Malcolm Moutenot and goalkeeper Christian Alcorn were second-team picks.

The Williams offense will start with senior forward Mark Sisco-Tolomeo, who is the top returning scorer. He had five goals, as did Rashid.

Young will start on the front with Sisco-Tolomeo and the diminutive (5 foot, 5 inches) Malcolm Singleton. All three are seniors.

Three juniors will start in the midfield. One of them is former Mount Greylock three-sport standout Eric Hirsch. He will be joined by Sean Dory and Greg Andreou.

Muellers will anchor the backline for Williams. One of the freshmen, Nick Ranieri, could see a fair amount of time on defense. He comes in with a working knowledge of Williams soccer, as he played for former Eph Steve Ginsberg at Nobles and Greenough.

"I think you'll see some [freshmen] factor into games," said Sullivan. "Eli Petrik is a wonderful young talent. Nick Ranieri came very well prepared. He knows the system and what to expect."

Sullivan, who played goalkeeper on the Williams Division III national championship team in 1995, knows something about playing the position. He will have to replace Christian Alcorn, who played every minute in goal last year.

Williams will start with senior Bobby Schneiderman or junior Aaron Schein.

"It's still open. It's a tough decision. I think you need two goalkeepers to be ready," said Sullivan. "Bobby and Aaron have certainly been patient, but hungry, and I think they're ready for the season.

"Williams has had a tradition of having depth in the goalkeeper corps. We're just excited to have that back."

Reach sportswriter Howard Herman at 413-496-6253, or @howardherman.


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