Both men and women’s Olivet soccer teams started off their seasons slower than usual with two wins, four losses, and one tie. However, since then, both teams have improved their records to seven wins, five losses, and one tie.
The women’s team had a slow start as they played four top twenty-five ranked teams including No. 3 University of Northwestern Ohio, No. 5 Columbia College, No. 12 Lindsey Wilson College, and No. 23 John Brown University. They lost to both Northwestern Ohio and John Brown and tied Lindsey Wilson. Since those first seven games, they have won five of their six games including shutouts wins over Judson University, Robert Morris University, and Calumet College of Saint Joseph.
“Our non-conference season was pretty tough,” women’s head coach, Bill Bahr says. “I think it was one of the toughest in the nation. Since then we have played very well. Our girls are more focused then they have been all season. We’ve outplayed every conference opponent in some of the areas we are focusing on by large margins.”
On the downside, the lady Tigers are allowing more goals per game (1.92) than they are scoring themselves at the moment (1.54). However, much of that can be attributed to early losses to Columbia (4-0) or Northwestern Ohio (7-0). If you were to exclude those games from their totals, they would be outscoring their opponents 2.09 to 1.27 in points per game. Some of these may also be related to the lady Tigers adopting a new system this season, where they play with five midfielders and three defenders instead of playing four of each.
“I think part of it was figuring [our new system] out and figuring out where we need to be in certain moments. We’re also getting more comfortable with each other and the way that we play” junior goalkeeper, Amanda Roche said.
The men’s team had a slow start to the season as well as they lost several players due to injuries, including junior forward Blake Van Bruggen, who won the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAC) Player of the Year award last season.
“If you would’ve told me that our record would be 7-5-1 at this point, I would’ve been a little surprised,” men’s head coach David Blahnik said. “But I’m completely happy with our guys’ performance and commitment and how they’ve dealt with some difficult circumstances. I feel good about where we are now, going on for the rest of the season.”
Since their rough start, the men’s team has won five games including a three-game win streak over Robert Morris University, Trinity Christian College, and Calumet College of Saint Joseph. They have scored three goals in each of those five games and held their opponent to an average of one goal per game.
“Picking our heads back up after losses has been our biggest strength,” junior defender Brian Pfaff said. “Even when we lose, the next day in practice we play so hard as a team. It’s a very good group effort. We don’t think about the last game; we move on to the next game. We think about what’s in front of us and not what’s behind.”
Both men and women’s teams have homes games on Saturday against conference opponent, Saint Xavier University. The men’s team plays at 2:30PM, and the women’s team plays at 5:00PM out at Snowbarger Field.
Photo from ONUTigers.com