On Halloween night, the university men’s soccer team lost in the OAC Tournament to a nationally ranked John Caroll University team. Now, the seniors who helped the team double their wins from the previous season are speaking about what their future holds.
Kellen Sargent, a senior marketing major, was the goalkeeper for the Comets. Sargent started playing soccer when he was around four years old. He didn’t start playing goalkeeper regularly until high school.
Although Sargent was injured most of the season, he said that watching his team succeed was something truly special.
“It took a lot to be able to take a step back and watch everything happen in front of me,” he said. “Seeing everyone’s successes even though I couldn’t contribute to it [was my highlight of the season].”
Sargent was able to come back to the pitch for the game against Muskingum, subbing into the game with 5 minutes left. The team welcomed back their senior goalie with flying colors.
“Getting cleared the day before and having everyone’s reaction to me being back, it was crazy,” Sargent said.
Sargent is currently working an internship with the Columbus Crew and plans to stay with them.
The goalkeeper played club soccer with Blast FC, as well as at his alma mater, Olentangy Orange High School. It was through school and club soccer that he made friendships that would last through college, even seeing some of his best friends on the other side of the pitch.
“I feel like there was almost someone on every [OAC] team that I had a connection to…being able to compete with everyone, and then to see them later in the season…It kind of brings back memories of why you do it.”
It was also through Olentangy Orange soccer that he met the Comets’ senior captain, Jack Kossoudji.
Before being the 2023 OAC Men’s Forward of the Year, Kossoudji explained that he wasn’t even going to play college soccer because of the effect COVID-19 had on his visits. It was because of his connection with Sargent that led him to the Comets.
“Originally, I wasn’t going to play soccer until Kellen Sargent committed to Capital,” Kossoudji said. “[COVID-19] kind of rendered all of my visits and everything I was trying to do to play college soccer….I went to a couple of Capital games with Kellen, and when he ending up committing I just followed in his footsteps.”
It’s a known fact that Kossoudji was a vital part of what the Comets achieved this season. On Oct. 25, 2023, Kossoudji netted one of the fastest hat-tricks in Division III history, scoring three goals in nine minutes and 56 seconds. Kossoudji said that he couldn’t have done it without his teammates.
“Usually I play center midfielder, but that game Coach put me in at striker,” Kossoudji said. “The team was just playing me a bunch of through balls that were nice, they set me up real well. Fortunately, I was able to put them in the back of the net.”
Although Kossoudji made history against Heidelberg, he says that his favorite memory from this season was beating nationally-ranked John Carroll in the regular season. It was that game where the team traveled to John Carroll University and beat the No.16 ranked Blue Streaks thanks to a goal and assist from Kossoudji and graduate student Mujahid Abdel-Ghani.
Kossoudji, a business management major, said that he wants to use the extra year of eligibility from the 2020 season to play another year.
He said that when the team faced adversity, they stepped up. The soccer team had a new interim coach this season, and Kossoudji said that he encouraged the team to find it within themselves to change the team for the better.
“[I told them] We’re going to have to do it ourselves this year, and really hold each other accountable,” Kossoudji said.
Jack Francisco, a senior forward for the team, said that interim coach Frank Speth was the change the team needed.
“I think everybody got another chance to prove [themselves], like a first impression,” Francisco said. He made everyone more competitive…he did a great job. I really enjoyed having him for the season.”
Francisco said that the seniors really came together and started a bond during the COVID-19 year, where they had to play a shortened spring season instead of the routine fall season.
“At first, the only way we could bond was through practice,” Francisco said. The first month or two we didn’t hang out as much, but when restrictions were lifted we hung out as much as we could.”
Francisco, an accounting major, said that after he graduates in the spring he wants to try to get a job with his current internship at Columbus accounting firm “Ary, Reopcke, and Mulchaey CPAs.”