The SUNYAC is arguably one of the top conferences in all of NCAA D-III. Each year, the conference produces not only perennial powerhouses, but also national champions. To play in that league, to some, may be the pinnacle of their career.
For Massachusetts-Dartmouth senior goaltender Ryan Williams, he was able to strap on the pads for the SUNYAC’s Plattsburgh Cardinals, a two-time national champion, earlier in his collegiate career, but for Williams, the light wasn’t as bright as he once thought it was while in northwest New York. The next best thing for Williams was a change of scenery.
“The main reason behind transferring was that I was looking for an opportunity to show my capabilities, and Mass.-Dartmouth provided that opportunity,” explained Williams. “Also, meeting with coach Rolli, and how he expressed that I had a fair shot at playing. In return, that’s all I was asking for.”
Williams, a native of Milton, ONT, played in 15 games his freshman year for the Cardinals (2009-10), holding an impressive 10-2-1 record. Things seemed on the up for Williams as he got set for his sophomore season with Plattsburgh. However, in his second season, he was only able to see action in six contests, which then forced the move to Mass.-Dartmouth in 2011.
The shift from one of the nation’s top conferences, to an up-an-coming one, wasn’t all that risky for Williams. In his first season for the Corsairs, Williams played in 24 games, went 13-9-2, and held a 2.42 goals-against average with a .923 saves percentage.
“The first year at Mass.-Dartmouth was a bit of a change, and it took a little bit to get use to,” said Williams. “Games are played on Thursday and Saturday instead of the Friday and Saturday, which I was used to in the SUNYAC. The travel times to away games are an average of 4-5 hours in the SUNYAC. In the MASCAC, away games travel time is much less.”
Making the jump from Plattsburgh to Mass.-Dartmouth to gain more playing time could be a shot in the dark, if anything. Playing time is not always guaranteed, but as Williams stated before, all he wanted was the opportunity. After playing in 24 games his first year in New Bedford, Mass., it seemed like that shot paid off. Much of the credit though, according to Williams, goes to the coaching staff.
“The entire staff at Mass.-Dartmouth has been very supportive and honest with me,” Williams noted. “They expect a lot from their players, and will tell them when they expect more out of your playing.”
Additionally, when making a “new” name for yourself, one may feel that you have something to prove. When Williams arrived on campus in 2011 at Mass.-Dartmouth, that feeling wasn’t there.
“I was not trying to prove anything; I was looking for a place to show my capabilities,” stated Williams. “After meeting with coach Rolli, it did not take long for myself to make up my mind about coming here. I made the right decision, and the last two years have been most enjoyable.”
Enjoyable indeed. Williams, who also is an assistant captain this year, currently ranks second in the MASCAC in goals-against, third in save percentage and has already been named MASCAC’s Goaltender of the Week earlier in the year.
“I am always looking to win and give my team the best chance I can to win,” Williams said. “Winning the MASCAC title, as well a berth into the NCAA, would a great way to finish my college career.”
It is never easy to escape your comfort zone. Some don’t like the idea of change, and battling to get what you want. For Williams, the change was what he needed, and he is making most of the opportunity given to him by the Corsairs.
Players of the Week
Rookie of the Week: Ryan Connolly, Fitchburg Sate, forward. Collected eight points on six goals and two assists in the Falcons 2-0 week.
Offensive Player of the Week: TJ Powers, Westfield State, sophomore. Powers netted four goals, including two game-winners, in the Owls 2-0 week.
Defenseman of the Week: Cody Osburn, Worcester State, sophomore. Scored the lone goal in the Lancers 1-1 tie against Mass.-Dartmouth.
Goaltender of the Week: Randy Wolcott, Fitchburg State, junior. Picked up two wins last week for the Falcons, stopping 60 of 62 shots in the pair of games for a .968 save percentage.