There are several angles to approach the Yeomen's 16-4 home defeat to Kenyon College last Saturday. At a simple glance, one might think it's just another blowout and a fitting end to a very forgettable conference season.
A more insightful and analytical perspective would be that the team played their best defense of the season - despite missing two defenders to injury - and kept the game quite close until the middle of the second quarter. The loss meant that the team finished the season 0-8 in the NCAC and is 2-10 overall with one game in hand.
It is true that the Yeomen did not win a conference game this season, but they are improving, and their young talent began to blossom late in the season.
The first-year core of attackmen Mike Wexler and Dave Rooklin and goalie Dave Smolev lived up to lofty expectations. Gritty seniors Ted Carleton and Greg Scranton gave the team a much-needed lift when they decided to join the team.
Without sophomore defenders Zeljko Petrovic and John Buff in the lineup against Kenyon, the Yeomen were forced to play out of position.
"We had midfielders playing defense because of the injuries to Z and Buff," said junior defenseman Terry Jue.
Even though there was an improvement in the defense and ball control on the offensive side, Oberlin was plagued by inconsistent play, a long-standing constant through this long season. Ultimately, consistent passing, man-up defense and good heads-up play need to be the rule and not the exception, and the team must learn that they cannot afford to feel content when they are not giving it their all.
"We're improving, but it's a little late," Jue added. "We have what it takes, we just have to out there and do what we have to do."
Smolev was a little more upset with the team's lack of consistency. "We don't have the intensity and will to win every game we play and we wonder why we lose," he said.
Lack of depth is nothing new as well. That was the story in second half, as fresh legs kept coming off the bench for Kenyon and not enough to equal on the Oberlin bench.
"We have three guys on the bench because of injuries," Jue said.
Rooklin attributed their woes to the tough schedule. "We have a lot of good teams in our conference, namely OWU, Denison and, to a lesser extent, Witt," he said.
In the loss, Scranton tallied two goals, with junior Ben Bernard and sophomore Evan Kelley also notching a goal each. And though many of the Yeomen were thoroughly displeased by the outcome of the game, some were able to take something positive from the experience. "We really kicked the crap out of their third-string," Smolev said.
Despite this season's setbacks, Rooklin remained upbeat about next year. "There is not much else than to look forward to next season," he said. "We have some good recruits coming in. Everybody will be a year older, and I'm looking forward to working with them in the fall."
The Yeomen play their final game on Saturday. It will be a home contest against Northwood at 1 p.m.
Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 22, April 30, 1999
Contact us with your comments and suggestions.