Historic Soccer Season May Be Drawing to a Close


Simeon Deutsch

Senior captain Ari Schwartz dribbles the ball. The Yeomen have enjoyed one of their most successful seasons in the last two decades.

Rose Stoloff, Sports Editor

After one of the most impressive seasons of the team’s last two decades, the Yeomen may be putting away their cleats until next year. The men’s soccer team traveled to Gambier, Ohio, twice in the last week to take on the Kenyon College Lords where they played two close games, tying one 0–0 and losing the other 1–0.

Tensions were high during Saturday’s game. “It was probably the most physical game I can remember,” said junior Remington Schneider. Each team committed 16 fouls over the duration of the drawn-out game. After going into double overtime, the match ended in a dissatisfying 0–0 tie.

The Yeomen returned on Wednesday to play their first North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament game since 2006, fully expecting another tough game.

Played under an initially sunny and clear sky, the game ended in a 1–0 loss for the Yeomen as the rain started to come down.

“The game was as we expected,” said senior captain Ari Schwartz. “It was really physical.”

Having already played the Lords, however, the Yeomen were better able to cope with their aggression. “When you go into a game like that, you have to know you’re just going to get bruised and hurt,” said junior Sam Winward. “The key is to not think about it.”

Both teams displayed more maturity in their playing style on Wednesday and put aside some of their antipathy.

“We had a better official that kept the physical play to a minimum, which allowed us to play more to our style,” said Head Coach Blake New.

Winward attributed some of the team’s better playing style to a few key strategy adjustments. “We were more patient on the ball,” he said. “Last time, we got in trouble when we were stuck on the same side. This time we kept switching the ball and had room to play.”

In the 23rd minute of the game, the Lords got a shot within the 18-yard box. Despite a performance that earned him the title of NCAC Player of the Week, senior keeper Brandt Rentel was not able to defend the shot, and Kenyon took a 1–0 lead over Oberlin.

The Yeomen fought hard to recover. Both sophomore John Ingham, who has been the leading goal-scorer for the team this season, and first-year Sam Weiss had promising shots in the first half, but neither managed to make it to the back of the net.

“We had a good game plan going into the game, and we executed it very well except for the most important part—the scoring of the goal,” said New. Schwartz agreed, saying the team’s greatest struggle on Wednesday was shooting.

Perhaps the most devastating moment came in the final five minutes of the game when sophomore Sam Bernhard made an impressive cross from the far left corner of the field to senior captain Joe Graybeal. Despite a valiant effort to get a head on the ball, Graybeal couldn’t finish the cross and was brought to his knees in disappointment.

“I was pretty sentimental when the game ended,” said Schwartz. “It didn’t really hit me that that could be my last game until after it was over.”

“I was upset,” agreed Schneider, “but I also recognized that we played really well, much better than last time. I left thinking we were the better team.”

The Yeomen will find out on Monday whether or not they will get a berth in the NCAA tournament. The top teams in each conference advance automatically to the NCAA tournament. A game between Ohio Wesleyan University and Kenyon College on Saturday will determine the number one team. However, the team hopes to receive one of the 19 available at-large bids.

New is optimistic, though far from certain about the team’s chances at earning a place in the tournament.

“Our numbers look good for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament,” he said, “but at this point, we have to just sit back and see where all the cards fall. Our hope is that the teams around the country that are supposed to win their conferences do win them, which makes more at-large bids available.”

Regardless of whether or not the Yeomen receive a bid, the team is proud of its historic record.

“Obviously, I don’t want our season to be over, but I’m really proud,” said Schwartz.

“No matter how the season ends, I’m proud of how it played out,” he said. “You could recognize from the very beginning of the season that this was going to be a turnaround year,” Schneider agreed.