Six Jeffs Earn All-NESCAC Honors
Contact: Mike O'Brien
AMHERST, Mass. – Second-ranked Amherst men’s soccer head coach Justin Serpone was named NESCAC Coach of the Year and five Jeffs received all-conference recognition on Thursday, as selected by the league’s coaches.
In his seventh season at the helm, Serpone has guided the Jeffs to a 15-0-2 overall record and 8-0-2 NESCAC mark en route to their third-straight conference title and eighth-consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. Amherst received the No. 4 ranking in the NSCAA National Preseason Poll and has remained in the top-5 ever since, claiming its first-ever No. 1 ranking on Oct. 29.
Serpone earned his 100th career win this season in the regular-season finale against Trinity, shutting out the Bantams 4-0, and has the Jeffs riding a 37-game unbeaten streak. In seven seasons with Amherst, he has amassed a 103-14-16 record for a .835 winning percentage, making him the second winningest active coach in Division III.
Responsible for the team’s success on the field are three first team selections; midfielder Max Fikke ’14, defender Julien Aoyama ’14 and goalkeeper Thomas Bull ’16.
Fikke led an offensive unit that led the league in goals scored (39) and assists (37). The senior tallied two goals this season, both game-winners in key situations. During a scoreless double-overtime game at Williams earlier this fall, Fikke netted the game-winner with 4:31 remaining to defeat their archrival. Over a month later, the senior midfielder once again devastated the Ephs when he headed in the game-winner in the 48th minute of the NESCAC Championship en route to NESCAC Player of the Week honors. The New York native also dished out four assists this year, second on the team, for a total of eight points. He registered two of those assists in a 4-0 win against Trinity in the regular-season finale.
Despite playing just 11 games due to injury, Aoyama excelled on the pitch once again. A 2012 second team selection, the senior earned first team accolades this season after headlining a defense that held opponents to just 124 shots all year compared to 336 from the Jeffs. The skilled defender proved he is one of the top players in the NESCAC by leading a defensive force that posted nine shutouts and allowed only eight goals, while making it difficult for opponents to cross midfield. Aoyama also added two assists offensively and has been a major contributor to the team’s success.
After an impressive first-year campaign, Bull has followed up with a stellar sophomore season. Logging 1557:15 minutes between the posts, he allowed just eight goals in regular season play. His 0.46 goals-against average ranked tops among league leaders and seventh in the nation. The Jeffs goalkeeper also posted a league-high eight shutouts including a streak of four-straight from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30. Bull hasn’t allowed more than one goal in a game all season and made 31 stops for a .795 save percentage. He was also responsible for an assist and a highlight worthy goal off a free kick from midfield that went over the head of the Bates’ goalkeeper during a 3-1 win.
Earning second team recognition are midfielder Brendan Caslin ’14 and defender Ben Norton ’14. Caslin anchored the midfield both offensively and defensively and has played a significant role in the team’s success this season. One of only five Jeffs to start all 17 games this season, Caslin has performed in pivotal situations. The senior has two assists this season, but both occurring in the conference tournament. Caslin was responsible for setting up game-winning goals in the quarterfinals and semifinals against Hamilton and Bowdoin, respectively. His assist in the semifinals occurred in the second overtime as Amherst claimed a thrilling 2-1 win.
Norton has played a significant role on this Jeffs defense en route to second team laurels. The senior has been one of the prominent role players all season, starting in all 17 games, and has been a force on the league’s top defense. Norton has also performed well offensively and has eight total points all season to place in a tie for sixth on the team. He scored the first goal of the game in the NESCAC semifinals against Bowdoin and has three on the year, two game-winners. The senior also dished out two assists this year.
The Jeffs are scheduled to host Bridgewater State on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m. in NCAA first round action.