Washington’s Comber, Pinto excel on the pitch and in the classroom

CHESTERTOWN — United Soccer Coaches has awarded Scholar All-America recognition to two members of Washington College’s Final Four team. Senior back Chris Comber of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania was named to the first team and senior goalie Anthony Pinto of Matawan, New Jersey was placed on the third team.

Comber also was named the organization’s male Scholar Player of the Year for Division III.

This is the latest in a long list of honors for Comber and Pinto, who led 14-3-6 Washington to a program-record No. 4 national ranking.

Comber, who played every minute this season (2,090), also was selected as the Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a first-team All-Centennial and All-Region V performer, and a first team All-American.

An accomplished player on both sides of the ball, Comber was the leader on a defensive unit that posted 10 shutouts while also contributing on offense with three goals and two assists.

He had the lone goal in a 1-0 defeat of Connecticut College in the Elite Eight that sent Washington to the national semifinals, and his penalty kick in a shoot-out sealed the win over host Kenyon in the second round.

Comber is the first Shoreman to be named a first-team All-American since John Jennings in 1958. Billy Williams was an honorable mention in 1973.

Pinto also was named to the all-conference and all-region first teams. He was the Centennial Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row as the All-Centennial Conference performer with junior or senior standing who has the highest cumulative grade point average.

His line included a 0.79 goals-against average, a .797 save percentage and a 12-3-5 record with nine shutouts. He made a career-best 11 stops in the 1-0 upset of then-No. 2 Mary Washington in the NCAA round of 16.

Washington coach Roy Dunshee said the post-season accolades for Comber and Pinto are “certainly gratifying.”

Speaking specifically about Comber, Dunshee pointed out that there are about 12,000 Division III soccer players. To be in the top 15 is quite remarkable and well deserved.

“Our defense has been outstanding for all of Comber’s three seasons and he has also added crucial goals which makes him a very special player,” Dunshee said.

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In the final United Soccer Coaches Division III poll, Washington was ranked fourth.

National champion St. Olaf (20-3-3) and runner-up Amherst (17-3-4) placed first and second, respectively.

Washington & Lee (15-4-6), which lost to Amherst in the NCAA semifinals, was third.

Then came Washington followed by Middlebury (15-2-4) to round out the top five.

Washington, which was unranked until the Oct. 31 poll, entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 18 team in the country and played ranked opponents in all five of its NCAA  matches.

Washington played its first two matches at Kenyon in Ohio, where it topped then-No. 25 Otterbein, 2-1, and then-No. 17 Kenyon in penalty kicks, 5-4, following a 1-1 draw after two overtime periods.

The following week, also on the road, Washington eliminated host Mary Washington and Conn College, 1-0, in the round of eight to advance to the Final Four.

Then-No. 11 St. Olaf defeated Washington, 3-1, in the national semifinals on the campus of Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.

“The sting of having come so close is slowly giving way to gratitude,” Dunshee told The Evening Enterprise in an email. “We had a very difficult road to the final four, having been the only team to draw a ranked opponent in each phase of the tournament. And I’m immensely proud of how our players accepted and adapted to each new challenge.”
 
Dunshee said the long bus ride to Ohio to play two “local” teams on their home turf was a huge obstacle. Both teams were fantastic, and “we escaped Ohio intact,” he said in the email.
 
The trip to Mary Washington was even more difficult as Washington faced the No. 2 and No. 7 sides. Dunshee said the Shoremen needed to be very clever and very committed to escape that pod.
 
“Our luck ran out in Salem, VA and we can have no regrets having given the eventual National Champs a solid game,” he wrote in the email . “In the end,” he said, “they were more clinical in front of goal and deserved the win.”

Two other Centennial Conference schools finished in the top 25 — Franklin & Marshall (14-3-3) at 17th and conference champion Johns Hopkins (13-5-4) at 24th.

The previous top ranking for the Shoremen at season’s end was 14th in 2021, when they advanced to the Sweet 16 and finished 15-5-1 to establish a program record for wins in a season.

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