Men’s Soccer team shows promising play early in season.
By Mak Ojutiku
Coming off a 9-11 season last year, the expectations for the 2013 Kean University Men’s soccer team may have been mixed. In a preseason NJAC coaches pre season poll, the Cougars were picked to finish 7th in their conference. In spite of that or perhaps even because of that their play this season so far has been strong to say the least. The Cougars opened their season with a 2-1 overtime over Kenyon College.
Kenyon got the tying goal with less than 3 minutes left in regulation, but rookie Kenny Rocha sealed the game with a golden goal five minutes into overtime. The next game was considerably less dramatic as the Cougars were downed 0-6 by Ohio Wesleyan. The Cougars managed to bounce back from that big loss in an even bigger way.
They strung together a 4 game winning streak, in which their captain, Senior Dominic DeLello tallied 5 goals. Head Coach Tony Ochrimenko says he has confidence in both the play of his captain and his character. “What sets (DeLello) apart is his commitment and dedication to athletics and academics and his outstanding work ethic” says the coach. DeLello currently leads the team in goals (5) and points (10).
Another player who was instrumental in that winning streak was freshman Akwasi Adu. Adu netted 3 goals during the streak, one of those goals being the gamewinner in Kean’s upset win over No. 14 ranked Haverford. His efforts got him the title of NJAC Rookie of the Week.
Ochrimenko has high hopes for the freshman.
“Adu is gifted in the game of football (and) very deceiving with his speed and dribbling ability” he said. “I am sure that He will be one of the scoring leaders as time goes by”.
The Cougars’ second loss of the season came at the hands of the University of Mary Washington. The old axiom about 2-0 being the most dangerous lead in soccer was proved true in this match as the Cougars went into the second half up 2-0 and ended up conceding 3 consecutive goals later in the game. The team recuperated with a 1-0 win over Marymount University with the sole goal coming from Senior Sheldon Palmer in the 55th minute. The next game was an important one; their first conference game and it was coming against Stockton College, a team that bested them last year. The Cougars won this game handedly, 2-0, outshooting Stockton 9-1. That win gave them a 7-2 overall record, a 1-0 NJAC record, and the No. 4 spot on the NJAC rankings.
Even though much of their success so far seems to be the result of individual performances, Ochrimenko stresses the importance of a team mentality.
“This team of 2013 are ‘ALL IN ‘ meaning that they are all together playing for a common goal” he says. “The individuality of each student athlete on the team complements every other person on the team”.