The Ohio Wesleyan men’s soccer team has advanced to the “Sweet 16” of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III championship.
The Bishops will be hosting the third round and quarterfinal games this weekend. OWU will play Johns Hopkins on Saturday, and Lynchburg will play Trinity. The winners of those two games will go on to face each other on Sunday.
Head coach Jay Martin says the Johns Hopkins game will be “a war.”
“They are good. We are good. I hope the home field will be the difference,” he says.
Last weekend, the Bishops faced Catholic University and conference rival Kenyon on the road in Pennsylvania. Martin says it was a tough weekend, but that NCAA games are traditionally a challenge. He says Kenyon was “looking for vindication” after OWU beat them 4-1 in the regular season.
Midfielder Tyler Wall ’11 and forward Travis Wall ’12, both named all-conference picks, were instrumental to the team’s success last weekend. Each scored a goal in both games.
Both gave credit to the Bishops’ defense and goalkeeper Paul Hendricks ’13 for keeping the other teams’ scoring chances down last weekend.
Travis says it was important to capitalize on every chance the team had to score.
“We didn’t get as many chances to score in either game as we normally do but that is expected being the NCAA tournament,” he says. “We were fortunate enough to bury our chances, and getting a lead in the first half in both games was huge going into halftime. Paul also played his most complete games of the year in my opinion.”
Tyler said the team’s experience in the tournament helped the players know what to expect and know how to perform under pressure.
“Kenyon was definitely more energetic during this meeting partly because their season was on the line, but also because of their inability to beat us in recent years,” he says.
Both said that Martin, who was named North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Coach of the Year for a record ninth time, has been key to the team’s success. Travis says the team was under a lot of pressure last year and that Martin is very good at keeping the players motivated.
“He motivates us as well, we are a reflection of all the work he has done with us for the last 3 months,” he says.
Tyler says Martin’s knowledge “goes beyond the soccer field.”
“He gets the best out of his players on the field by developing them as a person,” he says. “Anyone from the soccer program would tell you that Jay provides a great environment for a player to achieve success both on and off the field.”
Martin gives credit to his players for working hard—to the offense for keeping pressure on the other team and the defense for working hard to keep the other team away from the goal.
“We didn’t change anything and we won’t for this weekend,” he says. “We have won 18 games doing what we do. So we will do it again.”
The Bishops play Johns Hopkins for the first time in 35 years at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Roy Rike Field. Tyler and Travis Wall say the home field advantage will be good. The players will be in their own locker room and be sleeping in their own beds. Also, some soccer alumni will get the opportunity to come watch.
“…playing in front of them means a lot to us current players because they set the standard for OWU soccer that we are trying to live up to,” says Travis.