The College of Wooster came from behind to beat the men's soccer team 2-1 Saturday in a game that was a metaphor for the season.
The loss ended the Yeomen's season with just three wins in 17 games - and no victories in conference play.
Senior defender Eric Kuehnl scored Oberlin's only goal, a long-distance shot from just inside the goal box that bounced off the keeper's arm and into the net in the middle of the first half.
The goal was Kuehnl's only of the season and his third in his three years playing for Oberlin.
The Yeomen held onto their lead until a second-half spurt during which the Fighting Scots scored twice in about 10 minutes.
The second goal went in off Oberlin defender Chris Nytch, a first-year. Though his play cost the Yeomen a point, coach Chris Barker said Nytch bounced back.
"He hung his head and was upset with himself only until the kick-off," Barker said. "It really impressed me how he moved forward with the game."
Wooster, the NCAC's sixth place team, outshot Oberlin 13-12. The shot-making deficit was, statistically speaking, the root of Oberlin's problems.
Over the course of the season, Oberlin outshot its opponents 256-232. But in 19 games, the Yeomen allowed 44 goals more than twice the 19 they scored.
The young team - on which seven first-years started or played significant amounts of time in all or nearly all the games - simply wasn't able to convert its talent into victories.
The team was dominated by those first-years and seniors, with few sophomores and juniors. When those two classes were recruited, the team was in the midst of changing coaches - twice.
Many key players weren't used to playing with their teammates and several players were still working on the transition from high school to college soccer. Even though it was apparent from the start of the season that those would be potential difficulties, the team was optimistic from the beginning.
"I expected a lot more. I thought our record would be the opposite of what it was," senior midfielder Josh Adams said. "But at a certain point in the season, you realize that there are reasons other than winning that you're playing the game."
One of those reasons is the love of the game, which was also a motivation for the full squad of players who joined the reserve team - Oberlin's first in years.
Junior J.T. Englehardt began the season on the reserve team but by the season's last three games, he was a starter for the varsity team.
"The reserve team was fun," Englehardt said. "On the varsity field, it felt like there was so much pressure to win that it wasn't as fun."
Englehardt and other players from the reserve team will be vying for spots on next season' varsity, a team with a lot of talent already.
Barker said that with the addition of only a goalkeeper, the team will be competitive next year. Other inputs the coach is looking to recruit include a big-scoring forward and a sweeper.
This year, the junior midfielder Sam Krasnow, a captain, and sophomore forward Jabali Sawicki were the team's top point scorers with 10 apiece. Krasnow had five goals; Sawicki had four goals and two assists.
The team is losing just five players, though all were starters. Sweeper David Reeves is described by Barker and other players as the team's top defender - and one of the best in the conference. Kuehnl was also a constant in the defense.
Goalkeeper Dave Kumpe played in all but one game and was the only player on the team who is primarily a goalkeeper.
Adams was a three-year starter for the Yeomen. Forward Mike Buckler also won a starting role this year, a year the Cornell University graduate is spending here to take classes required for admission at law schools.
This is the end: The men's soccer team reflects on their 3-15 season following their loss against the College of Wooster Saturday. Above, coach Chris Barker addresses the team, including, from left, Mike Buckler, Peter Kazarinoff, Brendan Cody, Barker, David Wallacei and Zach Fine. Below, seniors Mike Buckler, David Reeves and Josh Adams linger on the field following their final games for Oberlin. Reeves and Adams were four and three year starters for the Yeomen, and the only seniors to have spent all four years on the Oberlin team, seeing the change from 34-year coach Fred Schultz, to interim coach and previous assistant coach Dennis Flood, to the new head coach Chris Barker. The team will take on a team composed of alumni players this Saturday at 2 p.m. (photos byJohn Matney)
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 8; November 8, 1996
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