After building momentum with a string of great performances over the last few weeks, the men’s soccer team has stumbled out of the gate in conference play. The Yeomen dropped two tough North Coast Athletic Conference contests, first to the Wittenberg University Tigers on Saturday and then to the powerhouse Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops on Tuesday. The team fell to 1–2 in the NCAC and 4–8 overall.
Oberlin’s forceful attack paid early dividends against the Tigers, putting pressure on the defense with numerous chances and set pieces. Finally the aggressive play paid off, as senior defender Kiefer Forsch took advantage of confusion in Wittenberg’s back line on a corner kick to post his second goal of the season.
“I saw the ball played hard and low across the front of the goal,” Forsch said. “It deflected off one of our players who had beaten the goalie to the ball. The ball went across the face of the goal where I was [able] to run and tap it in for a very easy goal.” It looked as though the Yeomen would take that lead into the locker room, but the Tigers answered back just before the halftime whistle to even the score at one all.
Things remained tight between the teams until the 57th minute, when Wittenberg seized control by slipping another goal past the Oberlin defense. Desperate to find the tying goal, the Yeomen sent waves of attackers but couldn’t break through, ultimately falling by a 1–2 score.
“We really started playing frantically after they went ahead,” senior captain and midfielder Oliver Miller-Farrell said. “[We] didn’t realize that if we had just played the way we knew, we probably could’ve taken it right back from them. Instead we got caught up in their game and didn’t do the things we know how to do best.”
Getting no favors from their schedule, the Yeomen turned around to face an even stiffer test at home against third-ranked Ohio Wesleyan. Despite falling into a quick 0–3 hole at halftime, Oberlin rallied to play the Bishops even at 3–3 in the second half. Two of the scores belonged to Miller-Farrell — who continues to pace the team with five goals for the year — with the third coming off the toe of junior and fellow midfielder Matt Capozzi. Although OWU’s early advantage proved to be too much in the 3–6 defeat, the hotly contested second half provided a silver lining for the Yeomen.
The team travels to Kenyon College on Saturday, Oct. 8, and still seems hopeful for a strong conference finish.
“What’s key for us,” Miller-Farrell said, “is to complete a game where we’re sharp on both the offensive and defensive ends. Our overall performance against Wittenberg, for example, was poor from everywhere on the field.”
“We didn’t create many chances and didn’t pay attention to the details on defense. But we keep our heads high, and we know that there’s still a long way to go in the conference. Anything can happen on any given day in our conference and we know that.”