Goalkeeper Ben Knowles figures he has found the best of both worlds at Morrisville State.
Knowles, who backstopped Mattituck High School to the state Class B soccer title, will get an opportunity to explore a new world in rural upstate New York, but certainly with a taste of the North Fork.
“I want to get away from home and explore, but a part of that that helped me make my decision is it reminded me partially of home,” he said on Monday while explaining why he choose to attend the four-year school in the fall.
Some other reasons also played into Knowles’ decision. One, the Mustangs traditionally have a strong men’s soccer program. They are coming off a 16-3-1 season in which they reached the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament. During his visit to Morrisville last weekend, Knowles said that he felt at home.
“Everyone on the team brought me back to like how I felt playing for Mattituck,” he said. “It was like one big family.”
And just as important was his major — computer IT software application.
“They just renovated their new half of their building,” he said. “They have a lot of new technology.”
His major will include learning about programming computers.
“We do a lot of fixing, hard drives, working with computers, tech support also,” Knowles said. “I look to be either be hands-on creating software for computers or being looking into how to fix problems with computers.”
Knowles certainly knows how to fix problems on defense. He recorded 10 shutouts in the Tuckers’ championship season.
As a college freshman, Knowles is being realistic that he doesn’t expect to start right off the bat. He realizes there will be a huge learning curve in making the jump to college ball.
“I’m going to go up there and obviously work as hard as I can until I prove a point to the coach and earn my spot, show him what I have,” he said. “There is going to be a transition because high school and college soccer obviously is going to be different, most likely going to be more physical, faster paced. They’re college athletes, so they’re going to be better than some kids who play high school soccer.
“It doesn’t matter how much I play. I’m sure I’ll get a little bit of playing time, here and there, non-conference games and stuff like that, games that are not huge.”
Knowles, 17, said that Morrisville coach Kyle Graves likes to break in new goalkeepers carefully, noting what he did with a freshman last year.
“He would go into games where Coach knew that if he let up one or two goals that we were going to score three or four goals and that we would have no problem with allowing those goals,” he said. “Even if he didn’t allow any goals, he still would have comfort where he knew we could compete with this team and still beat them. So he said I’ll have some playing time.”
Knowles said that he believed that he will be the only incoming keeper at the school, besides anyone else who might try out.
In Knowles’ new environment, he will, well, literally be in a new environment, at least outdoors. During his visit, temperatures hovered between 30 and 35 degrees. The former Tuckers’ keeper is prepared for a new challenge and that includes the weather.
“All [the players], they kept asking me if I was cold and I would say, ‘I’m a little chilly. It’s not that bad,’ ” he said. “Then they were just like, ‘Please, this is our summer.’ ”
Knowles just can’t wait for the fall.