Serpone Named New England Coach of the Year, Four Others Named All-Region
Contact: Mike O'Brien
AMHERST, Mass. – Head coach Justin Serpone of the Amherst men’s soccer team was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Division III New England Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year and Julien Aoyama’14, Tom Bull ’16, Max Fikke ’14 and Ben Norton ’14 were named All-Region First Team selections, as announced by the NSCAA on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Serpone represented the New England region after guiding the Jeffs to an 18-1-2 overall record and an 8-0-2 NESCAC mark en route to their third consecutive conference title and a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight. Amherst posted a 40-game unbeaten streak dating back to last season, marking the sixth longest run in NCAA Division III men’s soccer history.
On Wednesday, Oct. 30, Serpone earned his 100th career win in a 4-0 victory against Trinity in the team’s regular-season finale. Amherst also earned its first-ever No. 1 national ranking in program history on Oct. 29.
Serpone coached five All-NESCAC honorees this season, first team selections Fikke, Aoyama and Bull, and second team recipients Brendan Caslin ’14 and Norton. The Jeffs led the league in goals (49), assists (46) and goals-against average (0.46), giving up 10 markers all season while recording 11 shutouts. The team’s 0.46 GAA also ranks fifth in the country.
Amherst earned its eighth-consecutive NCAA Championship appearance this season and has made a trip to the postseason tournament in each of Serpone’s seven years as head coach. They returned to the round of eight for the second year in a row but fell short of a Final Four bid. Following the conclusion of the 2013 season, Serpone’s winning percentage had bumped up from .819 to .832 (106-15-16). He remains the second most winningest active coach in Division III men’s soccer, inching closer to the .833 mark held by Paul McGinaly of Trinity (Texas) University.
Aoyama, Bull, Fikke and Norton were joined by Conn. College’s Billy Hawkey ’14 as the five members from the NESCAC represented on the All-New England South First Team. Aoyama, earning the award for the second consecutive season, anchored the Jeffs dominate back line that allowed only 10 goals all season and just 52 shots on net. The senior also added two assists offensively and was a major contributor to Amherst’s success.
Fikke was the veteran leader on an offensive unit that led the league in goals scored and assists. The senior tallied four goals this season, all in pivotal situations. During a scoreless double-overtime game at Williams earlier in the 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. The New York native also scored two goals in a 5-0 win against Gordon to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16. He finished the season with 12 points and tied for second on the team in assists (4).
After an impressive first-year campaign, Bull followed up with a stellar sophomore season. Logging 1926:00 minutes between the posts, he allowed just 10 goals all season. His 0.47 goals-against average ranked fourth in the country. The Jeffs keeper also posted a league-high 10 shutouts including a streak of four-straight from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30. Bull didn’t allow more than one goal in a game all season and made 47 stops for a .825 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.
Norton played a significant role on this Jeffs defense en route to a first team selection. The senior was one of the team's prominent role players all season, starting all 21 games, and was a force on the league’s top defense. Norton also performed well offensively and recorded 10 points on four goals and two assists to rank sixth on the team. Of his four goals, three were game-winners.