Yeomen Take Second in Record Season
Appearing in its inaugural North Coast Athletic Conference Championship game, men’s soccer dropped a heartbreaker to the top-seeded Kenyon College Lords 2–1 in double overtime.
“We expected to win. The guys were excited and confident and ready to prove that we belonged,” said Head Coach Blake New. “We thought we matched up well with them and we thought this was our time.”
The Yeomen offense found a rhythm when senior winger Sam Weiss branded the scorecard less than four minutes into the game. In a clean progression of forward movement, junior midfielder Jonah Blume-Kemkes swung the ball to the far post as Weiss dodged past the Lords’ defensive line. Weiss found the back of the net to end his senior campaign with seven goals.
After scoring in the first few minutes against the Lords, the Yeomen had momentum on their side. But Kenyon, who held a number nine national ranking at the time, came back strong. Thirty minutes after Weiss’ goal, the Lords bombarded the Oberlin defense to tie the game 1–1 as Kenyon’s Billy O’Neill blasted a shot that flew just above sophomore goalkeeper Koryn Kraemer’s reach into the far top corner.
“We were expecting it to be a dogfight,” senior captain Nick Wertman said of the game’s momentum changes. “We knew Kenyon was going to play hard and we were ready for the game to be a battle.”
For the next 73 minutes, both teams remained scoreless. Toward the end of the second half, sophomore midfielder Trenton Bulucea sent a corner kick into the box that found the head of first-year forward Jack McMillin, but the attempt missed just wide of the goal.
After the first overtime, both teams remained locked in a 1–1 tie. The Yeomen had yet another chance to pull ahead in the opening minutes of the second overtime as Nick Wertman fired a shot off a volley into the hands of Lords goalkeeper Sam Clougher. Missed attempts like these demonstrated the importance of home field advantage, according to New.
“The field played a big role in the game,” New said. “It was bumpy and slick and not conducive to our style of passing and possession. Kenyon plays more directly and so the field was an advantage for them.”
The Lords capitalized on their home field advantage in the final minutes of the game when first-year forward Philippe Stengel received a long pass up the middle of the field, split the defense and fired a shot past Yeomen goalkeeper Koryn Kraemer.
Senior midfielder Adam Chazin-Gray said Stengel’s clutch play was an example of soccer brilliance.
“Both teams had opportunities to score in the final moments of the game and the difference was that one moment,” he said. “That’s what is so devastating about the loss. You can play amazingly for 105 minutes and then all that can be cancelled out in a single moment.”
That goal cemented the Lords’ second overtime win over the Yeomen this season. Kenyon earned a 3–2 double overtime victory against Oberlin on Oct. 11 at Fred Shults Field. Despite the end result, the Yeomen conquest did not go unrecognized, as three senior players were named to the NCAC All-Tournament team: Wertman, Chazin-Gray and senior defender Galen Brennan.
Wertman was an offensive front-runner throughout the season, finishing with a team-high 16 goals to top off his career with 31 goals. He said he is proud of what he and his team accomplished this season.
“We did things no other Oberlin team has, and personally I was able to achieve nearly all [of my goals] from the start of the season,” Wertman said. “We also were excited in the platform we’ve built for success going forward. The future is very bright for these guys.”
Though the Yeomen did not receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, the 2016 season was one that will go down in school history. The squad set the single-season record with 15 wins. It also notched a record 41 assists and a tied a school record tallying 48 goals. While the loss was painful, New said his squad will look on this season fondly.
“For a couple of days it was disappointment and shock, but after that wore off, they are proud of what we accomplished,” New said. “We had a great season. We fell just short of our ultimate goal, but I am very proud of this group.”