Varsity Soccer Welcomes Rich Powell as New Head Coach
While former head varsity soccer coach Ben Walsh has departed Salisbury to join the staff at the Black Rock Football Club, his successor Rich Powell will keep one foot in Black Rock even as he takes the Salisbury program’s reins from Walsh. Powell will continue his day job as Technical Director for Black Rock FC, the organization founded by Jon Moodey in 2013 to provide year-round training, competition, and academic counseling for top high school soccer players in Western New England and beyond.
Powell inherits a team that posted a modest 6-11-1 record last fall and that has not made a post-season appearance in a decade. A solid core of returning players, though, includes midfielder Thomas Yegbor ’20, a product of Ghana’s acclaimed Right to Dream Academy. Yegbor led the Knights last season in scoring and is expected to be a force again this season – once he completes his recovery from an injury last May. The 2018 edition also returns two experienced goalies in Jonah Anderson ’19 and Wesley Cobb ’20. Powell will look to five other returning starters help put the Knights back on the winning track: tri-captain and forward Ian Smith ’19; tri-captain and midfielder Mateo Rufo ’19, whose return from an injury is projected for mid-October; fellow midfielder Juan Ulivi ’19; and defender Diego Narvaez ’19. Other players who saw action last year include forward Caleb May ’21; midfielders Luis Ballester ’19, Cam Culton ’21, Seth Gelwarg ’20, and Gates Jansen ’19; and defenders Patrick McIntosh ’20, James Tait ’19, and Alec Torres-Patnode ’19.
Newcomers expected to make their presence felt are headed by tri-captain and post-graduate midfielder Jon Biller, who arrives on the Hilltop from Rhode Island’s South Kingston H.S. Joining the forward ranks is Alex Salvatore ’21, a top player at Rumsey Hall. The midfield will be bolstered by Jannik Ast ’22 of Baldham, Germany, the brother of three-year varsity-standout and team captain Niklas Ast ’17. Mathew Benham ’22, Connor Buettner ’19, and Aydan Macdonald ’20 will all help fortify the Knights’ defense.
Powell looks forward to becoming part of such traditional rivalries as those Salisbury enjoys with Avon Old Farms and Trinity Pawling. He also eagerly anticipates games with cross-town and cross-border neighbors Hotchkiss and Berkshire. While Powell is well aware of the depth of talent in the Western New England pool, which features a Berkshire team that has won New England titles in three of the past four years (losing to South Kent last fall in the championship game), he expects Salisbury to put a highly competitive team on the pitch. “As a first-year coach,” Powell enthuses, “I am excited to work with a great group of young men. I think with the right attitude and leadership, we can really make a push for the playoffs. I want to see the boys come together as one,” he adds, “and reach their individual goals and team goals.”
History of the Program
Salisbury’s first soccer matches were played in 1905 when a brand-new team compiled a 3-1 record. The experiment was not repeated, however, and participation in this sport lapsed for several decades. Instead, students played intramural soccer in the late fall after the conclusion of the football season. Interscholastic soccer returned to the Hilltop permanently in 1956 as a trial involving students from the “medical squad” who were injured or otherwise unable to play football. William R. Nonnenmacher served as the first coach. Squad members had neither a dedicated field nor true uniforms but nevertheless competed against local club and junior varsity teams. Soccer became a varsity sport in 1957, and in 1958 compiled a very successful 8-2 record. The team enjoyed particular success in the 1990s under the leadership of Coach Joseph Cleary, reigning as the Western New England Champions in 1990 and 1991, and winning the Raymond Brown Soccer Cup in 1994 and 1995. Today, the Crimson Knights are led by Head Coach Ben Walsh.