Mike Russo collects 400th win at Williams
|Head Coach Mike Russo of Williams College Williams Athletics|
Mohammed Rashid made quite an entrance, one that allowed Mike Russo to reach quite a milestone.
First-year striker Rashid scored two second-half goals Wednesday, lifting the Williams College men's soccer team to a 2-1 come-from-behind road win over Westfield State in its season opener. It also gave Russo — in the first game of his 34th season at the helm of the Ephs' program — his 400th career victory.
"I didn't know that," Russo said of his accomplishment. "Thank you for telling me, but you know me, it's about the boys, not about me."
Russo is now 400-101-54 (.769 winning pecentage) in his tenure. The Ephs have posted 29 consecutive winning seasons. In 27 of those 33 campaigns Russo's booters have won at least 10 games in a regular season that contains but 14 contests.
After a first half that saw Williams outshoot the Owls but fall behind 1-0, the Ephs picked up their play in the second stanza. "In the first half we overpossessed the ball instead of going forward," Russo said. "In the second half our transition game was a bit better, we were able to play more quickly, which is what you have to do on a turf field."
The Ephs gained the equalizer in the 58th minute on a goal by Rashid off a pass from Chris Seitz. In the 83rd minute, Eph senior Patrick Ebobisse played a through ball that Rashid ran onto behind the Westfield backs and netted the game-winner.
Russo is the first collegiate coach on any level to win back-to-back National Coach of the Year honors accomplishing the feat in 1987 and 1988, before his Ephs were allowed to participate in NCAA post season tournaments. Russo has been named the national Div. III Coach of the Year four times, garnering the honor again in 1993 and 1995.
In the fall of 1993 NESCAC allowed NCAA team tournament play and Russo guided his Ephs to the championship contest where they lost to UC San Diego int a title match played on Cole Field.
Russo's 1995 Ephs won the NCAA title when they defeated previously undefeated Methodist College 2-1 on Cole Field. Under Russo, the Ephs have advanced to four NCAA Final Fours: 1993, 1995, 1998 and 2009.
NCAA Div III Tournament Record: 27-11-6 (.682)
Final Four appearances:
1995 -- NCAA Champions
1993 – 2nd Place
1998 – 3rd Place
2009 -- 3rd Place
Four of Russo's Ephs have been selected to their national team and have earned international caps – Mike Masters '89 and Dan Calichman '90 with the U.S., Peter Lyn '91 with Puerto Rico and Khari Stephenson '04 with Jamaica. And four of Russo's players have been named the national Div. III Player of the Year: Terry Kaufmann (1995), Brad Murray (1996), Alex Blake (2001) and Dana Leary (2006).
Forty-seven Ephs coached by Russo have been named to All-America teams and 66 have earned All-New England honors through 2011.
Mike and his wife Angela live in Williamstown and their son Derek now lives and works in the eastern Massachusetts.