Bilal Razzak ’25 (He/Him), Sports Writer
This fall was, in many ways, an extremely strong season for Davidson sports. From the football team’s success all the way to the men’s and women’s swim teams outstanding pre-seasons, it’s an exciting time for Davidson athletics. However, one would be remiss not to mention the exceptionally successful season that the men’s soccer team has enjoyed. Boasting a 9-7-2 record, this team’s success largely depended on their leadership—an integral part of which was senior captain Henry Howell ‘22.
Hailing from Bradenton, Howell enjoyed an extremely fruitful junior career. In his freshman year of highschool, he scored 29 goals and had 31 assists. Furthermore, in his sophomore and senior seasons, he was his club’s leading scorer. Due to this record, when he graduated, he was ranked 11th in the State of Florida by TopDrawerSoccer.com. While Howell did have an exceptionally strong junior soccer career, that’s not the only sport he excelled in. In highschool, Howell was a four-time MVP of the cross-country team; he was also the team’s captain. With parents who participated in college athletics, it’s not hard to see why Howell is such a strong competitor.
Since day one at Davidson, Howell has had an extremely profound impact on the field. Starting in 16 of 18 games in his freshman year, Howell quickly became an integral part of Davidson’s core—initially starting his career at right back. Perhaps even more impressive, he led the team in goals scored and total points; he finished second with four assists and 30 shot attempts. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Howell netted goals in the first three games he ever played here, including a golden goal in a win against Dayton. However, his biggest accomplishment came in scoring in a double overtime win against Virginia Tech—a nationally-ranked powerhouse. With such a strong freshman showing, Howell was selected to the A-10 All Rookie team: a great accomplishment for an exceptionally talented player.
In his sophomore outing, he also shined. Once again, starting in the majority of the games played—13 of the 14—he was an integral part of the team’s core. This year, his biggest contribution came in the win against St. Bonaventure. There, he scored both goals to lead the Wildcats to victory 2-1. For the season, he logged at least 90 minutes ten times.
However, while his previous seasons were extremely successful, this year was perhaps his most successful: he was selected to be on A-10’s second team all conference. Reflecting on his previous experiences, Howell commented on his soccer journey throughout his time here at Davidson: “In highschool, I was a forward and came into college and was put at right back. While I was able to have a lot of success at right back… I struggled with moving forward and finding the position that I would excel at the best. In sophomore and junior year, I had glimpses of that in different spots. This year, I took on more of an attacking role.” Howell’s position journey throughout his time here exemplifies the type of player he is: he will make an impact wherever he is needed at the time.
While Howell’s play throughout his time at Davidson has been exceptional, so has his time in the leadership role this year. When asked about his role as captain, Howell responded, “you have this cool opportunity. People realize that you have been there the longest, and I think our class took that with a lot of responsibility.” In this instance, we can all appreciate Howell’s perspective as a leader this year.
While it’s difficult to say goodbye, Howell has an almost “giddy” feeling when it comes to the future of both the program and the team. While Howell did say he didn’t necessarily have anything profound to say, he noted the importance of instilling confidence in the next generation, as this year’s class leaves: “If you show that you have the utmost confidence in them no matter how or where they’re playing, they’re going to match with confidence of their own; and then, you’re going to grow together.”
While Howell will move on from the Davidson soccer field at the end of this year, he doesn’t plan to hang up the cleats just yet. He doesn’t know yet where he’s going to play next year. While that’s uncertain, there’s one thing that’s not—all of us here at Davidson are sure he’ll make an immediate impact.