Victory has been plentiful in the past for both the men’s and women’s soccer programs at Capital University, and the 2017 season is sure to bring more of the same. Perennial success comes to both teams by way of many different factors.
Head men’s coach Alan Yost cites senior leadership of a young team as a mechanism for a successful season. Yost speaks highly of the four returning seniors, including starting goalkeeper Justin Niswonger. He also brought attention to the experience of the wealth of underclassmen on the 2017 team.
“It seems like everybody is an underclassman,” Yost said. “I’d say the bulk of our team is freshmen and sophomores for sure.”
Yost was quick to add that eight current sophomores played in every game as freshmen during the 2016 season. In addition to early experience, he highlights their speed and effectiveness on offense.
“They’re very fast and very dynamic goal scorers,” Yost said of his sophomore forwards. “I think we’re going to have a lot of pace and a lot of dynamic attacks for the next couple [of] years, which is nice.”
The Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) coaches poll ranked Crusader soccer third out of ten in the conference, but this statistic holds very little weight in the mind of Coach Yost.
“I don’t read into those polls,” Yost said. “In no way, shape, or form will they be accurate come the end of the year.”
Yost said he believes that the coaches polls are more of a procedure by which to advertise your school and your student-athletes rather than an accurate predictor of the season results. This fact speaks to the competitive nature of OAC soccer.
Within the conference, Yost labels John Carroll University as a major threat, the school having won the OAC in 2016. Capital will play John Carroll at home on Saturday, Oct. 21 this season. Yost also spoke of Otterbein University and Ohio Northern University as stiff competition. He added that every game outside the conference is a must-win, but specifically mentioned Ohio Wesleyan University and St. Thomas University as targets.
Women’s soccer is also beginning the season with plans for successful results. Like the men’s team, the women are a very young group of student-athletes bent on continuing the winning trend of seasons past. The small senior class will find themselves leading a skilled group of underclassmen throughout the fall of 2017.
“The nice part about this senior class is that they’ve really had a lot of success,” Women’s Head Coach Matt Ogden said, adding the fact that as freshmen, the 2017 seniors went to the NCAA national semifinals.
“Even though we’ve only got a small amount of upperclassmen on the team,” Ogden said, “it’s a very well-rounded and seasoned [senior class] who have had that taste of of the national tournament and are doing a fantastic job of leading the younger players.”
Senior defender Caroline Hester, who has played all four years, also weighed in on the matter of playing with a young team.
“We do have a really young team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t have a skillful team,” Hester said. “I think that we do have a lot of skill and we especially have a lot of deep skill. The next eleven on the bench are just as capable as the starting eleven.”
Though the Capital women’s team was ranked second in the OAC on the pre-season poll, conference numbers are even less of an issue to Coach Ogden and his athletes.
“We haven’t got our sights on winning the conference,” Ogden said.
He admits that this statement may sound strange at first.
“We’ve really adopted a different mindset this year. We’re not necessarily focused on winning things; we’re focused on being the best we can possibly be.”
Ogden elaborated by saying that if the team focuses on the details that they feel allow them to be successful, wins will come and the results will take care of themselves. He said that in the past, his teams have been preoccupied by winning important games and lost focus of the foundation behind what it takes to win.
“If we can do that as a group,” Ogden said of this down-to-earth frame of mind, “we’re going to get to where we want by the end of the season.”
Ogden also mentioned that the OAC is just as competitive on the women’s side.
“It all comes down to game day,” Ogden said. “There’s some really good teams in the conference. It’s not going to be just two or three teams at the top anymore.”
He speculates that the top five teams in the OAC are capable of beating one another when it comes down to it.
Capital’s soccer program has two young but very promising teams. Regardless of strategy, mindset, or what the OAC polls say, it is safe to expect great things from both Crusader soccer teams this fall.
— Capital Crusaders (@CapCrusaders) September 5, 2017