Skidmore Men's Soccer
Skidmore Men’s Soccer is ranked 22nd in the nation for Division III soccer and sits comfortably atop the Liberty League standings with 12 points, with wins against Vassar, Hobart, Clarkson, and RIT. These wins can be attributed to a strong offense of returning players, including Senior Captain Tim Sullivan, and Sophomores Austin Okoye and Kevin Santos, who each consistently find the back of the net. However, the most impressive aspect of this winning streak for the Thoroughbreds is that they have shut out every Liberty League opponent that they have faced so far this season, which is why the credit for the first place standing is owed largely to the defense.
The back line is relatively young compared to the starters on the rest of the field, as Freshmen Ben Caples and Ben Poole have joined the ranks this year and offer major contributions to the defense. Adebare Oyeniyi, a junior who was converted from center mid to center back last year, is consistently able to shut down opposing forwards, and is able to minimize the number of shots on goal. Oyeniyi and Poole work together expertly as the center backs; they both stand over 6 feet tall and are very physical players, and they are also two of the smartest players on the field. Their vantage point from the back gives them a view of the entire field, and they use this advantage wisely. Even though he is a freshman, Poole does not present himself as a rookie. He is one of the more vocal players, and is always keeping the players in correct defensive shape, advising when to step and when to recover. Sophomore Jeremy Tenenbaum is the usual left back starter as he is very physical and great at one-on-one defending. His greatest strength is in his positioning; he always stays connected to the center backs and is always in the right place at the right time. During the few occasions when an opposing player has been able to get a shot off, goalkeeper Eli Kisselbach has grabbed, punched, cleared or slid into it to protect the net. He has an impressive save percentage of 0.919 this year, and is an intimidating presence in net. Overall, Kisselbach and the back four have made an impenetrable wall this season.
Despite their positions, the defenders have not felt restricted from joining the offense. It is clear that CB Oyeniyi wishes to be in the midfield again, because whenever he sees an opportunity to dribble up field or get a shot off, he will take it. A holding mid will cover for him in the back as Oyeniyi looks to get into the box to score off of corners or free kicks. He currently has three goals, which is very rare for the last defender on the field to have. Ben Poole, the other center back, also has a goal on record. Another crucial stat to bring up is that of right back Ben Caples, who is currently leading the team in assists. He has a dangerously long throw-in that he serves into the box without fail every time the ball is in the offensive third of the field. A total of six goals so far have been the result of a Caples’ throw-in.
To win games, a team must be able to effectively create and finish off of scoring opportunities as well as have a strong, smart defense. The Thoroughbreds have a first-class defense that is both preventing goals and causing them. Every single player on the team plays a crucial role in this season’s success, but the defenders deserve a lot of praise.
This weekend, Skidmore Soccer faces Ithaca College for a non-conference match at home on Wachenheim. They have four Liberty League games left until they take on postseason play to qualify for the NCAA tournament.