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  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Rivier College head coach, Bill Lawler stands on the sideline during Tuesday evening's game at Rivier College against Daniel Webster College.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Rivier College's head coach, Bill Lawler yells to players on his team from the sideline during Tuesday evening's game at Rivier.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Daniel Webster College's Nicholas Klesh heads the ball during Tuesday evening's game at Rivier College
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Daniel Webster College's Spencer Bernard leaps up to try to head the ball while Rivier's Joe Granato waits for it to fall during Tuesday evening's game at Rivier.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Rivier College goalkeeper, Matt St. Peter falls to the ground and watches as Daniel Webster College's Jeremy Pakalnis maneuver around him for a tap-in score during Tuesday evening's game at Rivier.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lawler heads across town to rebuild Rivier soccer

Tom King

Bill Lawler almost found himself yelling out instructions to the opponent.

Unheard of for a college head coach, right?

Well, not if the players you recruited and cultivated were on the other side oft he field. I

Lawler actually contributed to his Rivier College men’s soccer team’s 2-0 loss last Tuesday night at the hands of city rival Daniel Webster because he created a pretty darn good program at the Eagles’ nest.

Now he tries to do the same thing at Rivier. It was a rare cross-town defection as a coach who took his team to the NCAA tournament the previous year leaves to coach at the rival school that has been down in the dumps the last few years

“I have a ton of respect for those (DWC) guys,” Lawler said after watching a player he recruited, perhaps the best the Eagles ever had, senior Alex Jackson, bury a pair of goals against his Raiders.

“That’s a nice little team we put together. We had a lot of success. We’re taking that blueprint, and dropping it down here.”

What lured him? The well-lit, well groomed Field Turf facility high above the Muldoon Center? Are they naming it after him?

Well, no; but Rivier hasn’t had consistent men’s soccer success since the days of Scott Thomas’ guidance back in the late 1990s. The Raiders, in hopes of trying to keep good people on staff, had done the sport wrong in a sense, sometimes combining the men’s and women’s soccer jobs into one, or, as they did the last few years, baseball and men’s soccer. It doesn’t work.

Enter Lawler, who is full-time men’s soccer coach.

“I was really impressed when I met the staff here,”Lawler said. He also was impressed with the weight room, new indoor facility and the soccer facility.

“And it’s a dynamic move by the athletic department to split the two sports (soccer and baseball, with Anthony Perry taking baseball).”

Coaching in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference is, arguably, a step up overall.

There’s no arguing that Lawler has that special touch. Two years ago showed what he can do by winning his first of two straight conference crowns and upsetting Plymouth State in the first round of the ECAC tourney.

But at Riv he has some work to do. Legend has it when he made the move in August the roster was so depleted only a half dozen or so were ready to play. He and the students hit the phones, hauled in some potential players who were on campus and a couple of off-campus recruits and presto – a roster of 19. Still, quantity doesn’t make for quality, as the Raiders didn’t manage a shot on net.

“We’re trying to get athletes, trying to get speed, trying to get guys who like the ball,” he said.

Athletes like Jackson, who will finish his Eagle career as the school’s all-time leading goal scorer.

“We wish Bill well, we hope everything goes well for him at Rivier,” he said. “It was definitely a little strange, seeing him over on the other sideline. Once you’re in the game, it’s just another game.”

What was difficult, if anything, was the timing – a couple of weeks before the season was to start.

“It’s tough,” Lawler said. “I don’t think you ever really want to do that, especially when that group of guys at Daniel Webster did so much for me. … They gave me that first stepping stone.

“We’re going to attract quality players and let them make the decision.”

If Lawler does at Riv what he did at DWC, it’ll be an easy decision for the athletes. Perhaps a lot easier than the one he made last month.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com.