As the semester gets under way, everyone on campus begins adjusting to the taste of CDS and the workloads of classes. Likewise, the men's soccer team is adapting to certain changes this week. In only their third week under new Head Coach Blake New, the team is still trying to learn his style and expectations. Following a positive preseason which included a defeat of a Division-II team, the men faced two tough competitors this week and unfortunately came up short in both games. Mount Union defeated the Yeomen 7-2 on Saturday, while Heidelberg felled the team 5-1 on Wednesday.
Saturday's game started well with senior midfielder Yair Evnine scoring the first goal of the match head-ball to the back post. Following a Mount Union goal that briefly tied the game at 1-1, senior forward Jabali Sawicki put Oberlin back on top for the last time that game.
The match then took a bad turn for Oberlin when the referee misinterpreted a new conference rule. The rule states that a player who has to leave the field due to injury is allowed return in the same half. A Mount Union player was injured in the first half and allowed to return to the game at a freekick outside of the Oberlin box- not a normal subbing time. The official refuted New's protest saying that the new rule allowed the player to return at any time. The Mount Union player took the field and promptly scored the free-kick to tie the score at 2-2.
While Oberlin managed to hold that score until the half, and though the official would later retract his ill-advised decision, the damage was already done. Oberlin ran out of steam in the second half and allowed Mount Union to score five times.
"We panicked under pressure," said New. "We didn't possess the ball like we needed to and we weren't organized defensively as well as we needed to be."
Besides benefitting from Oberlin's disorganization, Mount Union played an exceptional game with all 17 of their shots either scoring or reaching senior goalkeeper Caleb Stokes uncontested. "Sometimes, a team gets hot and everything is on net," said Stokes. "There's not a lot you can do about it except try to eliminate the opportunities that they get to take shots."
"Unfortunately," he added, "we weren't able to do that."
While everyone else enjoyed a leisurely Labor Day holiday, the team took the field to work on defensive organization in preparation for Heidelberg on Wednesday.
"Heidelberg plays kick the ball, run and try to score," said Sawicki, speaking poorly of the opponents' tactics. "We just have to keep our focus and hopefully we will be victorious."
Wednesday's game didn't even mirror Saturday's strong start. Heidelberg took control of play, scoring twice quickly in the first half. Despite several strong attempts, Oberlin was unable to rally for a goal and the half closed out with Heidelberg leading by two.
Oberlin came out strong to start the second half. Junior midfielder Sam Hopkins managed to drive a shot into the back of the net. It wasn't enough to stop the momentum of Heidelberg who answered with three more goals. Oberlin was simply unable to maintain the intensity level of their opponants. Senior midfielder Zach Fine noted that the Yeomen had difficulty winning the fifty-fifty balls that could possibly have changed the flow of the game.
"The basic concepts were there," said Fine. "We picked it up for maybe fifteen minutes, but you win soccer games by maintaining for ninety minutes."
"The big key for our team is that we need to change our mind set from scoring goals to preventing goals," said New. "We don't give defending enough of a priority." Tinkering with the defensive line will hopefully rovide results, but for now it is creating more stress on a team still adjusting to new leadership. Junior Ian Maher has stepped up well into the sweeper position this year, but freshman Richard Braithwaite found himself playing an unaccustomed stopper role for the Heidelberg game. Braithwaite usually plays at an attacking midfielder position but, due the strength of Heidelberg's front line, was pulled back into more defensive spot.
Many players agree that the team still possesses lots of raw talent and skill. With any luck, they will display that talent in their next game at home against Defiance tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Try, try again: The Yeomen struggle mightily but to no avail, dropping a 7-2 decision to Mount Union on Saturday. (photo by Areca Treon)
Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 128, Number 2, September 10, 1999
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