Nichols College commenced their 2013 campaign with an exciting overtime victory against Westfield State at home last Friday night.
The Bison, who trailed the Owls by two touchdowns, rallied to force an extra session before their defense stopped Westfield on a two-point conversion, which sealed the win.
A few days after their exciting victory, Noontime Sports caught up with Head Coach Kevin Loney to discuss the victory and how the Bison will use it going forward into their next game tomorrow evening against Western Connecticut State University.
On last week’s victory: “I think for the upperclassmen, they’ve been through so many close games over the last four years. They’ve come out on the wrong side on a lot of those, so finally to win one against a good opponent that we haven’t beaten in a long time (should help our team realize) that we can do this and that’s a big thing. I called a timeout right before the last play of the game. (Westfield) lined up to go for two (in overtime). We saw the play on film, so I called timeout and said that was the play. (My team responded) by saying, ‘We’ve got it, Coach,’ but the kids now feel (confident), which is a big thing and now we’ve got to keep building on that (for the rest of the season).”
On starting the season with a win: “Being that it was against Westfield State, a team our seniors had not beaten and two years ago, our first year as a (coaching) staff here we lost to those guys in a very similar game by a point, they blocked an extra point at the end of the game to beat us. Our kids were pretty amped up for last year’s game too, but last Wednesday in practice I knew our kids were ready to play. For us, winning early and getting it over with will be a big thing for us. Now that the monkey is off our back, let’s go play.
“Things have been good this week in practice. They’re practicing with confidence, but they still have a bit of an edge and urgency. Last year we beat UMass Dartmouth and going through practice (afterward) there was just such a relief for our guys because they had been so tensed for two years and then finally we could take a deep breath. Again, they’ve practiced with a bit of an urgency this week, so hopefully that carries through to Friday night.”
On the team’s current attitude: “Last Saturday, our men’s soccer team played Springfield College and beat them, which is a huge win for them and a bunch of our guys were at the game and (from interacting with some of the guys I felt) they’re starting to believe. Guys are starting to believe in our process and how we’re going to go through it, and they came out Sunday and had a good practice and a good film session.
“I did say to the team, ‘Your biggest improvement is from week one to week two,’ so obviously it’s a totally different opponent this week because West Conn is a spread offense and they’re extremely athletic and they’re going to be really good, so I think it’s a good thing for our guys to be able to go play and challenge ourselves to play better football this week.”
On a growing moment from this summer: “During one of our double sessions, we cut practice early to give the guys a bit of a breather and I think it was a day when we had our Green and White scrimmage. We went out that night and practiced a little bit and it was just a light practice to give the guys a little bit of work. Once we ended practice, the kids stayed for an extra hour. They were running and doing other stuff with no coaches involved. They just did it, and I was walking up the hill and thought they were probably going to stay for (an extra few minutes), but it was an hour and that’s never happened since I’ve been here. We have coaches on our staff that was here (before I arrived) and it’s never happened, but they still do it.
“The team is taking ownership in their success and to me that’s probably the biggest change because it can’t always be coach driven. If you have players that want to be good and willing to work at it then you’re going to have success, so that is a really god thing.”
On the senior class legacy: “We’ve got a good group of kids and we’ve gone through a lot here in terms of turning our roster over and being more of a Northeast roster over the last three years. I think the kids that have lasted with us have bought into our philosophy and our ideas about how to build this program for the long haul. It is shown by how we practice every day and how we handle ourselves in meetings, which has been really fun to watch.”