2019 men's soccer season preview

Jeff Plump '20 and #12 Aidan Wood '20
Jeff Plump '20 and #12 Aidan Wood '20

Hamilton College has advanced to the NESCAC men's soccer championship semifinals three years in a row and the Continentals are aiming to make it four straight in 2019.

In 2016 Hamilton edged their quarterfinal and semifinal opponents in thrilling overtime victories. The Continentals defeated Amherst 4-3 in a wild, come-from-behind quarterfinal match the following year. Hamilton upset nationally ranked Connecticut College for a 1-0 decision thanks to a Roth Wetzel '22 goal in last season's conference tournament.

Seven starters and both goalkeepers return from a team that went 9-7-1 overall and finished seventh in the NESCAC with a 4-5-1 mark. The Continentals recorded nine shutouts and opponents scored one or fewer goals in 14 out of 17 contests. Six of Hamilton's seven setbacks were by a single goal.

The Continentals are led by their defense and center back Luke Eckels '20. Eckels has made the all-region team twice and the all-conference squad three times, including the first team for the second straight year in 2018. He was the NESCAC rookie of the year back in 2016. Jack Sheehan '21 (1 goal, 1 assist) joins Eckels on the back line and Jose Torres '20 started four matches on defense last year. Milo Donovan '21 and Matt Jordan '22 started 17 and 13 matches, respectively.

Linds Cadwell '20 started in net the first five matches last year and posted a 0.71 goals against average and .625 save percentage before he suffered a season-ending injury. Thomas Benson '22 stepped in and played every minute in goal the rest of the year. The rookie Benson ended up second in the conference with 89 saves and a .908 save percentage and was fourth with a 0.68 goals against average.

Eight of the 10 players who recorded points last year are back in 2019. Aidan Wood '20 grabbed all-NESCAC team honors at forward for the second straight season after he scored a goal and tied for the team lead with three assists. Wood was first team all-conference in 2017 when he ranked among the leaders with eight goals and 19 points.

Wetzel led the team with three goals and seven points as a first-year. Classmate Sam Dils '22 (2 goals) is the only other returner with multiple goals last year. Noah Giovannelli '21 (1 goal, 2 assists) and Jefri Schmidt '20 (1 goal, 2 assists) finished with four points apiece and Jeff Plump '20 tied Wood for the Hamilton lead with three assists. Plump has eight in his 50-match career with the Continentals. Greg Zimmerman '22 also added a goal.

Hamilton opens the season at home against SUNY Oswego on Tuesday, Sept. 3. Love Field received new sod and an improved drainage system during the summer.

The Continentals' conference opener is another home match against Bates on Sept. 7. The event will benefit the Go4theGoal Foundation in the organization's fight against pediatric cancer. Hamilton has collaborated with Go4theGoal the past two years to raise more than $33,000 towards the fight against pediatric cancer in Central New York.

The rest of the NESCAC home contests are against Amherst (Sept. 14), Colby (Sept. 28), defending national champion Tufts (Oct. 13) and Wesleyan (Oct. 19). The Continentals will honor their seniors before they take on the Cardinals in their final home match of the season.

Head coach Perry Nizzi enters his 22nd year with 176 wins at Hamilton. Eckels and Schmidt are the team captains.