UMass Profile: Sam DeNormandie
Sept. 8, 2009
By Marvin Pave / Globe Correspondent / September 6, 2009
Sam DeNormandie keeps it simple: he shoots and he scores. And thanks to his nose for the net, the former Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High standout is earning a shot at more playing time on the men's soccer team at the University of Massachusetts.
Prior to Friday's matchup at Hartford, the redshirt sophomore from Lincoln had taken a grand total of two shots in two seasons, and both resulted in goals. The latest came Tuesday when the Minutemen fought to a 1-1 double-overtime draw with 24th-ranked Boston University.
In his third varsity game, DeNormandie tallied in the 42d minute against the Terriers after being on the field for just three minutes. He headed the ball straight into the air, and when it came down redirected it into the upper right corner of the goal.
Last year he scored against Fordham on his only shot of the game and of the season.
"It's been exciting because I've been working hard in practice and it's starting to pay off,'' said DeNormandie, who was recruited primarily as a central defender.
"I played mainly forward at Lincoln-Sudbury, but on defense with the Massachusetts Olympic Development Team and with the Greater Boston Bolts club team, so I've had experience on both ends of the field.''
DeNormandie said his Minutemen teammates have given him some good-natured kidding about his success rate. "They tell me to be very careful with my next shot, but of course, they're rooting for me to get another chance,'' he said.
The former Dual County League all-star was caught in a numbers game on the back line the previous two seasons. He was redshirted in 2007, when UMass advanced to the NCAA Division 1 semifinals, and last year he still had to wait his turn.
"It took time for Sam to adapt to a new level, and we had a back four that was pretty much the same group'' from the year before, recalled UMass head coach Sam Koch, a Concord native.
"So playing him in the back that year, well, the chances were slim to none, but he handled that redshirt year extremely well. Last year, it was still a numbers game for him, but there were definitely many Division 1 teams he could have started for, in my opinion.''
DeNormandie was patient, but a bit frustrated.
"My freshman year, there were two senior central defenders, a position I was hoping to play, and last year I was still behind two veterans,'' he said. "But Coach knew I had played forward and had attacking ability, he gave me a chance and I wound up scoring the game-winner against Fordham.''
Koch has continued to try to make the most of DeNormandie's all-around talent this season.
"Sam's size is a real positive,'' he added of the 6-foot-2, 190-pound DeNormadie. "He's a big presence when he's on the field. He's strong on the ball and his ability to fend people off when he has it is a big plus,'' said Koch, now in his 19th season at UMass. "What he does as well as anybody on our team is head balls in the air and clear balls when he's at center back, but on the flip side, he's able to make the transition so we've moved him up top and he's handled that very well.
"Obviously you want him on the field,'' added Koch, "and the fact that he wears a couple of different hats is a bonus. We'll see how it goes, but if Sam continues to do what he did against BU, he's probably going to get more time, most likely up front.''
Koch said that it's been two decades since he's seen such offensive production from a reserve player.
"I had a player like that, Ross Torres, when I was head coach at Stanford'' in the 1980s. "He didn't play a lot but scored a lot of goals, and Sam reminds me of Ross, who made the most of his minutes,'' Koch said.
On the varsity team at Lincoln-Sudbury for three years, DeNormandie scored nine goals and six assists and was a first-team Dual County League All-Star as a senior. He was also captain of the Massachusetts 15-and-under and U-17 Olympic Development teams that won regional titles and advanced to the national semifinals in Texas.
"High school soccer was great fun, and club soccer and the Olympic Development experience was a challenge and a way to get to the next level,'' said DeNormandie, whose father, Tom, was an All-American lacrosse player at Lincoln-Sudbury, and whose brother, Cole, is a junior at Lincoln-Sudbury and an All-New England soccer player who led the Dual County League in scoring last season.
"Andrew had a great game against BU. He's very good in the air and is our best one-on-one defender and best athlete on our team,'' said Koch. "Matt is extremely fast and he hasn't played soccer full time because of his track background, but he's a project player and a nice addition to our squad. Rafael will probably redshirt this year, but he's very skillful and fit.''
Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com
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