The Ohio Wesleyan men’s soccer team is a force to be reckoned with…again.
The team is 8-1-1 so far this season and is ranked 6th in the country in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll. This Saturday’s game against Oberlin is one of the highlights of Homecoming & Family Weekend.
The team is led by head coach Jay Martin and a strong contingent of upperclassmen, a combination that has historically been a recipe for success. But one thing is slightly different this year: an unusually large group of freshmen has earned playing time on the field and is making its own impact on the program.
Martin says he and assistant coach Brandon Bianco ’07 worked hard to recruit a strong freshman class, and that the men they recruited have been very successful so far.
“We get good players here,” Martin says. “I have never had a problem recruiting for OWU. It is a great school. A little effort in recruiting makes the program go on and on.”
Martin says freshman do not usually see much playing time. He said he expects great things from the class of 2014 when they are juniors.
“This group is talented,” he says. “The potential is unlimited. But it is up to them. How good do they want to be?”
Matt Shadoan ’14, who has earned time on the field, says he enjoys being a part of the team.
“I was nervous at first, but once I got into the groove the nerves started to go away,” he says. “Plus I know that if I have a problem I can approach either the coaches or upperclassmen for a solution.”
He says it was difficult to adjust to the speed of play and competition at OWU. He said he hopes to adjust even more as time goes on.
“I am always trying to prove myself out there on that field,” he says. “You are always looking to impress the coaches and upperclassmen. But I feel like there is equal pressure on every class.”
Shadoan says playing as a freshman is hard enough without the added pressure of being a Battling Bishop.
“You are always playing with a target on your back and I did not realize that until the first couple of games,” he says. “On top of that you are always looking to gain the respect of the upperclassmen.”
Martin also says that many teams are out to beat Ohio Wesleyan.
“We are in the conference (portion of our schedule) now so every game is important,” he says. “Every conference team wants to kick our butt. Most are sick of losing to us. We will get their best game. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. We want their best game. It’s no fun winning if they didn’t play their best!”
Shadoan says he thinks his class will be strong leaders as they continue on at OWU.
“I think that we will be very successful over the next three years,” he says. “We have a very skilled class; there are going to be high expectations from us and the coaches. We feel like we are the future of the program.”