A sophomore wing from Sudbury, Gavin Tasker started all 18 regular season games for defending Division 3 national soccer champion Tufts, which earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament last Sunday.
Tufts defeated visiting Middlebury, 1-0, at Bello Field to win the program’s first New England Small College Athletic Conference regular season title.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Tasker was tied for the team scoring lead with 11 points and also tied for second with four goals, including two game-winners, prior to its opening NCAA tourney matchup Nov. 12.
“He’s a rare combination of dynamic athleticism and technical skill,’’ said Tufts head coach Josh Shapiro. “Gavin can handle pressure in his area and also has the ability to get behind defenses and create chances. He’s become a go-to guy.’’
Tasker, 19, a sprinter on Tufts’ indoor and outdoor track teams, scored the insurance goal in a first-round, 2-0, NCAA victory last season against Springfield College.
A quantitative economics and environmental science major, Tasker was a three-sport athlete at the Middlesex School in Concord, where he was an Independent School League All-Star and All-State selection for soccer.
He also played for the New England Football Club which advanced to the National Premier League soccer championships.
Tasker’s father, James, a former varsity swimmer at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, was a semi-professional triathlete. His mother, Sandra Poole, was a varsity athlete in high school.
Q. What is your enduring memory of last year’s NCAA championship?
A. Having a hand leading up to the winning goal in the national championship game in overtime. I received the ball on the left wing and took a shot that glanced off a defender and went out of bounds which set up our game-winning goal off a corner kick.
Q. What has been your parents’ role in your athletic career?
A. We’ve always been a family that enjoyed the outdoors, hiking and canoeing, and my parents have been supportive of any sport I wanted to play as a kid, which I appreciate as I was big into soccer and tennis growing up in Belgium.
Q. How do you prepare for a game?
A. I like to get up pretty early on game days and walk to Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee while listening to country music. I try to get to the locker room two hours before the game to stretch and run on the treadmill.
Q. What made you decide to also run track in college?
A. I didn’t run track in high school, but after we won the [soccer] national championship last season I thought it would be a great way to continue to compete and stay in shape. It was cool to be a part of our New England indoor track championship.
Q. What do you envision your major will lead to?
A. I’m interested in the environmental science and finance sectors, and recently accepted a summer internship with Eastern Research Group in Lexington, an environmental consulting firm.
Q. Now that you’ve played in the NCAA tournament, how will you approach it this season?
A. I’m only now appreciating what that meant, because I had never been in that situation before. I’ll approach every game with the same focus and concentration no matter who the opponent, realizing there’s no room for error.
Q. How did you enjoy living in Belgium?
A. I was there from age 7 to 12 after my mom was transferred there for work. I made some great friends and played the European style of soccer, which was highly competitive and more physical. That made me a better player when we moved back to Sudbury.
Q. Your brother, Liam, is a three-sport athlete at Middlesex. What advice have you given him?
A. To appreciate the value of hard work, because you’re only given so much natural talent.
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