As the school year enters September, there is good news for Buffalo sports fans: soccer season is here. After months of waiting, WT soccer fans will be able to head to The Pitch and show their support for the Buffs, and the team is more than ready.
The squad finished last season with a record of 11-4-2, making 2012 their 20th consecutive winning season. With seven starters returning for the 2013 season, there are high hopes around campus. Add to this the fact that the Buffs were in the National Championship conversation at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, and fans can get a feel for the expectations on the team this season. However, there are some challenges that the team will face this season in their quest for a title.
“This year has been a little bit different in terms of preseason practice because it’s shorter, so we have to work our way through this process a little bit,” Head Coach Butch Lauffer said. “We are trying to be careful to work the players hard, but not over-train them and break them down physically.”
Even with so many returning starters this year, and 18 total returning players, Coach Lauffer has been working hard this preseason to assess his squad to find the perfect winning combination.
“We’re still kind of trying to put the pieces together, certain players in certain positions, to try and figure out how it is all going to go together,” Coach Lauffer said.
This season will mark Coach Lauffer’s 23rd season in charge of Buff Soccer, a great legacy for the school. With so many years under his belt here, the Washington, D.C., native knows a thing or two about the beautiful game, with a career record of 261-117-30 as head coach of Buff Soccer, which spans from 1991-present. After so long with the team, Coach Lauffer knows the importance of the season opener.
“I think it is really important that we try to get off to a good start and get a victory on the first night,” Coach Lauffer noted. “No matter how pretty it is, no matter how ugly it is, we just need a result to get the kids to build some confidence.”
Going into this season, the veteran players on the squad will be of vital importance to the success of the program. From back to front, there are many players that will play important roles and will act as leaders on field.
“We’re going to expect a lot out of Cooper Garrett in goal who had a great redshirt season last year,” Coach Lauffer said. “Chandler Elder is a senior, Mikey Williams who’s a junior, Conrad Goulbourne in central midfield with Wayne Bruton, and we have a junior college transfer kid named Vito. He is a Brazilian kid and he is definitely worth watching. Up front right now we have George Beasley and Gabe Williamson. This will really be George’s first full season for us; he has his act together on and off the field so we are expecting big things from him.”
As always, the opposition for the Buffs will be tough, with so many talented teams from around the area playing well the last few years. There are some key games this season that fans will want to attend in order to show support for the squad. The first of these is of course the first game of the season, which is Thursday night at 8 p.m., following the Lady Buffs soccer match at the pitch.
“The first one is always key, as it helps set the tempo for the season,” Coach Lauffer added. “We have our first six games at home, so it would be nice to start the season 6-0. Then obviously the games against Midwestern are big, they are always a dogfight, and then also the games against Eastern who have done a good job of elevating their program.”
Over the first part of the season, WT soccer fans can enjoy multiple matches that will be played at home for the Buffs, and Coach Lauffer hopes to attract a large crowd.
“I hope the students will come out and watch us play,” Coach Lauffer said. “We’re a good value for money and we play at night so that’s a good situation. We have a tailgating area for them to tailgate and have fun before the games now, so hopefully they will come out and raise a little hell and show some enthusiasm.”