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Russo leads men’s soccer to top 20 national ranking

Published: September 14, 2012
Section: Sports


After helping lead the 20th ranked men’s soccer team to an undefeated 5-0 record, Lee Russo ’13 earned UAA Athlete of the Week honors and for the first time in nearly a decade, the Judges have achieved a national ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). After two more wins this weekend, the Judges moved up three spots from 23 to 20.

“We’re excited about it but we can’t be complacent. I think its good we’re being exposed but it’s so early in the season. We really have to try to not think about it when we’re playing and just take it one game at a time,” Russo said.

Russo, a politics major and business minor, is one of four senior co-captains this year; however, his new role has not changed his approach.

“I don’t really know if it really changes anything,” Russo said. “I think it gives us a certain kind of confidence, but it doesn’t change how we approach practice or anything.”

This confidence has been on public display since the beginning of the season as the Judges have systematically dismantled the competition, outscoring them 22-5.

Judging by the season thusfar, Russo has been the unquestioned star of the team. Already, he not only leads the team but also the UAA with seven goals and 16 points. Behind Russo, the Judges are now ranked at the highest point since October 1997 when they were ranked 18th.

As he entered college, however, it was not a sure thing that he would play for the Judges, as he was recruited by both Brandeis and UMass Amherst.

Russo explained that he chose Brandeis because he “had a really good time in freshman overnights” when he came up and spent the night around the team to get a feel for the environment. Russo continued, “I really liked the guys. It was a great experience. Plus it was close to home so my parents get to see me play, and it’s a great school.”

Russo credits the former captains and seniors for the team’s stellar play. “I really … think they helped a lot. They were able to get the best out of people. The entire team has been picking things up from the classes above us and I think they’ve helped us a lot to get to where we’re at now.”

In addition to his former teammates, Russo credits Coach Coven. “He’s a great guy. He’s been around for a long time so he knows a lot about the game. I’ve learned a lot from him as a person and as a coach.”

While Russo has played a crucial role in the team’s success, especially during this season as well as last season, Russo remains grounded, pointing to the performance of the team as a whole.

“It’s not just me. We have a lot of great attacking players. If I happen to be scoring a lot of goals right now, good for me, but there’s going to be a point in the season where other people are scoring big goals. It’s just the nature of the game. All the guys are playing great this year. It’s not an individual effort,” he said.

During the course of the last two years, Russo has already tied and broken several Brandeis scoring and points records; however, he is not focused on any individual achievements.

“I’m trying not to think too much about that. I want to score as many goals as I can so we can win as many games as we can. It’s not about the points or anything.”

Russo had his second career hat trick in the team’s most recent game against MIT, including the golden goal in overtime. When asked about his knack for always being in the right place at the right time in addition to his stellar performance, Russo simply smiled and stated, “As Coach Kostel once said, ‘Just put the ball in dangerous places and see what happens.”

Russo plans to go to law school upon graduation. “I don’t know where, I may be a lawyer. I did an internship at a federal public defender’s office so we’ll see.”

In the time being, however, Russo is leading the charge for a renewed Judges’ soccer team off to its best start in 15 years.