SCHENECTADY — When Notre Dame Bishop Bibbons soccer standout Wil Lawson is doing his thing, teammate Connor Barber has to catch himself sometimes and not stop in his tracks to watch.
Lawson’s thing is creating space and scoring goals, and he’s been doing that at a prolific rate this fall.
“He’s definitely fast, but his skills are ridiculous,” Barber, a sophomore wing, said of Lawson, a junior center forward. “He’ll get by three or four defenders, and his percentage on shots is crazy.”
Lawson connected for 27 goals in 13 regular-season games which included a four-goal performance and four hat tricks. His last three-bagger came in Friday’s 4-1 Western Athletic Conference crossover win against Fonda-Fultonville.
When the Golden Knights beat Fonda-Fultonville 5-0 the previous Friday to conclude league play, Lawson also netted three goals to surpass the 23 goals he generated last season.
“I’m just playing as hard as I can and relying on those guys,” the Galway resident said of Barber and fellow tri-captain James Kim, a senior midfielder. “They do such a great job of pushing the ball and making passes that are right there. They have tremendous vision.
“I don’t want to take all the credit,” he added. “There’s 11 guys on the field.”
The humble WAC all-star gets hungry, though, when a scoring opportunity develops.
“Every game I go in wanting to score,” Lawson said. “That’s my mind set.”
Lawson’s four hat tricks have come in Bishop Gibbons’ last six games, and he’s scored at least one goal in every game the Golden Knights have played, while climbing to the top of the Western Athletic Conference goal chart and to No. 3 in all of Section II.
“I’ll put the ball over the top, and if we connect, 95 percent of the time I know it’s going in,” Barber said. “It’s crazy what he does.”
Opposing teams know what he can do, and Lawson, who also competes with the Albany Alleycats, always draws plenty of attention. Last season
ND-BG foes also had to deal with exchange student Gregorio Vichi, who, like Lawson, collected 23 goals.
“They’re swarming on him [Lawson],” Bishop Gibbons coach Joe Masi said. “We adjusted our offense recently to open up more room for him, and it’s worked. Hopefully, it will continue.”
As a sophomore, Lawson amassed six goals in a 9-3 win against Schoharie as part of his 23 that year. His four-goal game early this season came in a 6-3 win against Fort Plain.
“That game stands out because I had four goals, two assists and two saves,” Lawson said. “Our goalie [Cole Nelson] got injured. He took a cleat to the chest and I went in there, and I didn’t get scored on.”
Lawson has 10 assists this season to go with his goals. He factored into every goal in the 5-0 win against Fonda with his hat trick and assists to Barber and Lorenzo Cavallaro.
“Out of my eight goals, six times he’s fed me perfectly,” Barber said.
Lawson’s play and leadership have coincided with the Golden Knights’ steady climb since their return to varsity soccer in 2015 after a hiatus of several years. They went 6-4-2 against WAC teams (6-5-2 overall) and are thinking they can have some sectional success.
“There was no soccer when I came here,” said Lawson, who began his studies at ND-BG as a sixth-grader and also runs track for the Golden Knights. “We’re doing pretty good for a third-year program. We’re a pretty good team.”
It’s a young team, with only three seniors and three juniors.
“He [Lawson] has been a catalyst in our development,” Masi said. “We have a lot of younger players, and you have to have that role model in order to develop and move forward. You have to have people who are able to lead. James and Connor fit the same mold.”
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or
@jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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