It's Business Time! Men's Soccer Wins
On the cold Ohio evening of November 1, 2006, the Oberlin College men’s soccer team fell soundly to a strong opponent in Denison University, ending in the loss of the North Coast Athletic Conference semi-finals for the second year in a row.
In a year when expectations and goals were higher than ever before, the Yeomen were unable to advance to that illusive NCAC title game or to the ultimate goal of an NCAA tournament berth.
Although the goal eluded them for a second consecutive year, a higher standard had been set by compiling a home record of five wins and three draws with zero losses, a record which helped play into the overall record of eight wins, four losses and four draws, not counting the conference tournament loss.
This time around, all the players believe that 2007 is the year when the Yeomen not only will summit the semi-final hump, but also will reach the ultimate goal of competing in the NCAA tournament.
Coach New’s men lost some key players due to graduation and transfer for the upcoming season, namely: All-region midfielder Zachary Tesler, All-Ohio goalkeeper Clayton Combe, All-NCAC defender Montgomery Lobe and recent Columbia University transfer, All-NCAC defender, Ross Meyers OC ’09, who is part of the college’s 3-2 engineering program.
These four were major pieces to the Oberlin puzzle, but with ten first-years, some of whom will see significant minutes in their inaugural season for the Yeomen, the missing pieces seem to have found a more youthful shape that fits into the same grand picture, filling it in even more than their predecessors.
Led by senior captains, defender Tim Kovanda and All-NCAC midfielder Sam Zackheim, the youthful Yeomen squad will look to produce a successful season off of the pair’s leadership, guidance and experience.
With a strong frontline, goals should not be lacking for a Yeomen squad returning juniors Luke Hoffman and John Lindner, along with sophomore Skyler Düm. In addition, look for first-year Evan Atwell to play a role in finding the net this season.
Behind the forwards, the midfielders have had a stellar fight for playing time with the addition of first-years Joshua Chapman, David Lowe and Chris Campbell to what was already an astral midfield group consisting of Zackheim, senior Johannes Jungschaffer and sophomores Dan Jaffe and Evan “the Hyphonator” Cantu-Hertzler.
On the defensive side of the ball, Kovanda will take the reins of the backline. Along with junior Kyle Taljan, Kovanda welcomes first-years Wyatt Hayman and Drew Williamson to a defensive line of four that, although young, could be one of the most talented and steadfast in the conference.
Between the net moorings, junior Derrick Bean, sophomore Max Phinney and first-year Zach Lipshultz will each be trying to prove to Coach New that he should be the one chosen to stand as the last man for the Yeomen.
In the first three matches of the young season, the Yeomen compiled a 2-0-1 record with a win against Heidelberg College 2-0, a draw against a Lake Erie team that they outplayed 1-1 and a 2-0 score line against Mt. Union.
During the Heidelberg contest, Oberlin came out against a team it had to beat to start the season out on the right foot. The first half was one where the teams played a physical game with the score remaining 0-0 at halftime.
Early in the second half, outstanding work by Lindner won him the ball off a Heidelberg defender. He then played Atwell into the box. Atwell proceeded to place the ball up and over the keeper to make the game 1-0. A goal by Hoffman later in the half put the game out of reach and gave the Yeomen the win 2-0 and Bean his first ever clean sheet.
Hoffman again contributed to the Yeomen in their September 2 bout with Lake Erie. A wonderful through ball by junior Michael Mullaley put Hoffman in behind the defense where he somehow managed to get the ball away from the Erie goalkeeper and into the net to put the Yeomen up 1-0.
From there, Erie awoke from its siesta and began to use the forwards’ speed to open up gaps in the Yeomen defense. A goal late in the first half made the game 1-1. It stayed that way through the rest of the game.
On September 5, the Yeomen took on the Purple Raiders of Mt. Union. Playing in the heat of the late afternoon, Oberlin started slow but came to life toward the middle of the first half. Williamson’s cross was headed toward the goal by junior Zach “Lulu” Lewis where Atwell sprung into action to grab his second of the season and put the Yeomen up 1-0 to close out the half.
The second half began with a newfound confidence in the Oberlin step. A corner kick by Lewis was headed by Jaffe toward Hoffman who proceeded to back-heel the ball into the upper corner of the Mt. Union goal to end the scoring on the day and give the Yeomen a 2-0 win along with Lipschultz’s first shutout.
With the gut-wrenching feelings still present from the semi-final losses to Denison in 2006 and Allegheny College in 2005, the Yeomen will now look to enter unchartered waters and claim the treasure that rests at the bottom of its ocean, the NCAC crown and a spot in the NCAA tournament.