Hartford, Conn. – The Trinity College men's soccer team, under the guidance of Head Coach Mike Pilger (14th season) and senior tri-captains, Cody Savonen (Orleans, Mass.), Tim Peng (Taipei, Taiwan), and Mateo Zabala (Medellin, Colombia), closed the 2017 season with three wins in its final five contests after a slow start to the year. The Bantams went 3-5 in front of their home crowd and 1-5-1 on the road this fall while averaging one goal per game and 13 shots per contest. Despite their overall record, Trinity fought hard all season, dropping six games by just a single goal to put them at 4-10-1 on the year and 1-8-1 in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). On the defensive end, the team recorded three shutouts while Zabala finished third in the league with 77 saves. Nine Bantam rookies saw action in eight or more games this fall, setting the team up nicely to compete for the league crown for years to come.
The Bantams had another solid season in non-conference play going 3-2 in out-of-league matches this fall. After losing their season-opener to Williams College, 2-1, Trinity bounced back with a dominating 6-0 victory against Rivier before losing a string of close games. At the end of September, the Bantams took on Bates College and neither team could find the back of the net despite Trinity firing 17 shots in the game, resulting in a 0-0 overtime tie. In their next conference game, Trinity fell short in overtime to New England's No. 7-ranked Bowdoin Polar Bears, 2-1 at home.
The Bantams regrouped and snapped an eight-game winless streak when Peng found the back of the net in the 45th minute to lift the team to a 1-0 victory over Western Connecticut State. In the next game, Savonen scored twice while Zabala came up with numerous clutch saves to lead Trinity to its first conference win via a 2-1 thriller at home against in-state rival Wesleyan in mid-October. After falling to league foe and NCAA Tournament bound Middlebury, 1-0, the Bantams battled back on their home field and senior Scott Brazina (Concord, Mass.) and sophomore Henry Farr (Philadelphia, Pa.) each found the back of the net in the first half to lift the team to a 2-1 victory over the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors. Trinity battled until the final whistle in its season-ending, 2-1 setback against the visiting No. 10-ranked Amherst College Mammoths.
Savonen capped off his collegiate career having established himself as one of the best players in the conference. The Massachusetts native led Trinity in scoring this fall with 18 points (1st on team, tied for 2nd in NESCAC), eight goals (1st on team, T1st in NESCAC), and two assists (tied for 2nd on team) as he was named to the All-NESCAC First Team after the season, his third All-Conference selection in his career. He took a team-high 62 shots, putting 36 on goal, and started all 15 games. A senior captain and a three-year starter, Savonen totaled 69 career points (3rd all-time at Trinity) on 29 goals (5th all-time at Trinity) and 11 assists, taking 199 shots and scoring eleven game-winners in 61 games and 56 starts in his fine Bantam career. Brazina and Farr added six and eight points, respectively, as each scored three goals this season, while junior Alex Steel (Weston, Mass.) led the squad with four assists (T4th in NESCAC). First-years Henry Belt (Brookline, Mass.), Ben Miles (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Dagoberto Nunez Jr. (Central Falls, R.I.) all found the back of the net once in their first autumn in a Bantam uniform while classmates David Luongo (Danvers, Mass.) and Chris Monnes (West Hartford, Conn.) both recorded assists on the year.
In goal, Zabala finished the season with 77 saves (3rd in NESCAC) in over 1,351 minutes in net and a 1.46 GAA and .773 save percentage and recording three shutouts. Defensively, Steel, Belt, senior Alex Bednarek (Berlin, Conn.), junior William Baker (Los Angeles, Calif.), sophomore Max Cottrell (Dover, Mass.) and first-year James Marden (Marblehead, Mass.) anchored the back line that surrendered just over a goal per game.
Peng capped off his college career with NESCAC All-Sportsmanship recognition thanks to his dedication to sportsmanship and leadership through example. The senior also earned NESCAC All-Academic honors, and was joined by Bednarek, Brazina, Steel, Farr, and sophomores Michael Burns (Oreland, Pa.), Griffin Paterson (New Canaan, Conn.), Patrick Simpson (London, England) and John Mackie (Darien, Conn.).
This fall marked the final collegiate campaigns for Peng, Bednarek, Savonen, Brazina, and Zabala. The group was a part of Trinity teams that compiled 24 victories during their time and overall record over the last four years, and reached the NESCAC Championship Tournament for three straight years from 2014-2016. This group has collected four NESCAC All-Academic awards, a trio of NESCAC All-Conference selections, and has been a part of numerous volunteer efforts around campus and the greater Trinity community.