Men’s Soccer Concludes Season Without Playoff Hopes


Courtesy of Sarah Kaufman

Junior midfielder Slade Gottlieb dribbles the ball in a game against the Case Western Reserve University Spartans. The Yeomen have dropped their last four games.

Taylor Swift

The men’s soccer team came out on the losing end of a flurry of North Coast Athletic Conference games over fall break with three straight losses, moving its conference record to 2–4–1 and effectively eliminating any hope of advancing to the playoffs. Oberlin saw tough competition in contests against the DePauw University Tigers, the Denison University Big Red and the nationally ranked Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops, falling 2–1, 4–2 and 4–1, respectively.

Despite the unpromising results, junior Louis Naiman found the academic break productive for the Yeomen.

“It was nice to return to almost a preseason-like mentality,” said Naiman. “Our primary focus became playing and bonding and being on a break from school work.”

This focus steered the Yeomen into a hopeful first few minutes in their home game against the Denison University Big Red as sophomore Adam Chazin-Gray netted the first goal in under three minutes. Junior Sam Bernhard sent the feed to Chazin-Gray and in doing so tallied his second assist for the season. However, the strong start would not be enough to hold off the Big Red, as it retaliated with two goals headed into halftime.

Just minutes into the latter half of the game, the Big Red built on its first-half momentum and netted its third goal. Play turned rough just minutes later as a scuffle in the Yeomen six-yard box resulted in a head injury for senior goalkeeper Oidie Kuijpers. The injury allowed sophomore Connor English to step in for his first career game.

“I honestly didn’t expect him to come out of the game initially when we were playing against Denison,” said English. “I was in shock, but I just went out and played. It was pretty easy to adjust [with the defense] because Oidie and I would rotate and practice with everybody.”

The transition did not slow down the Yeomen as they continued to fight from behind, and Chazin-Gray tallied his second goal of the game after junior Slade Gottlieb slotted a through-ball behind the Big Red’s defensive line. Unfortunately for the Yeomen, however, the Big Red answered Chazin-Gray’s play with their fourth and final goal. After missing the first few games of the season due to injury, Chazin-Gray’s presence on the field proved integral to the Yeomen’s attack.

“I think if we had Adam all year, we’d be looking at a couple different results,” said Head Coach Blake New. “He’s just a really dynamic player and moves really well off the ball, and I think he played well in both [the Denison and OWU] games.”

Chazin-Gray proved just how vital his presence was once again in last Friday’s match against the Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops. After the Battling Bishops netted an early goal against English, Chazin-Gray retaliated by scoring one of his own less than six minutes later.

However, Ohio Wesleyan proved relentless as they put yet another goal past Oberlin and topped off the game with two more in the second half. Despite the lopsided score, the Yeomen defense remained strong with sophomore defender Galen Brennan managing to curtail the number of scoring opportunities for the Battling Bishops. New described Brennan as one of the team’s “most solid performers.” Naiman also commended English for his stellar performance in spite of the challenging conditions in the game.

“Oidie was playing fantastically before he had an unfortunate concussion from a bad collision, but Connor deserves all the credit in the world for stepping up and not only finishing the Denison game in Oidie’s spot, but playing against OWU, which is a really tough game to play for your first start,” said Naiman. “Connor played with a lot of poise coming in and it shows that all the hard work he has put in for so much of the season has paid off.”

English also started on Wednesday’s away match against the Allegheny College Gators in a game the Yeomen lost 4–2. The team raced out to a 2–1 first-half lead in the match, but had no answer for the Gators in the second half and gave up three consecutive goals.

The Yeomen will look to upset the nationally ranked Kenyon College Lords this Saturday, Nov. 1 in their final home game at 3:30 p.m. on Fred Shults Field.

“I think we had trouble being the favorite, and even though we talked about it all the time, we struggled with that mentality at times,” said New. “We haven’t gone into the last week of a season in probably four or five years without a chance to make it into the playoffs, so it’s a little foreign for us, but at the same time, I think the message is finish what you started, and maybe spoil somebody else’s party.”