New Era for Kean’s Men’s Soccer
By Gerald Lima
The Kean men’s soccer team looks to bounce back after a 9-10-1 season last year, under new head coach Rob Irvine. “I have to lead in a way in which I feel more comfortable leading,” coach Irvine said. “I think I’m a pretty structural person. I try to implement as much structure as I can. The second thing is habits. I’m big on habits both on and off the field.”
Irvine starts a new era with the Cougars after spending eight years at Penn State University. He’s entering a program that has been coached by former head coach Tony Ochrimenko for the past 37 years.
“It is definitely a privilege,” Irvine said. “This is a national championship program. It has a very rich- storied tradition. I feel very fortunate to be following in the footsteps of Tony.” The Cougars started off the 2014 season with a record of 2-2-1, which included a 1-1 record on its trip to Colorado.
Sophomore midfielder Steven Osores came off the bench last season, but, under Irvine, he has earned the opportunity to be a starter.
“As a starter you are expected to be consistent throughout the entire game and effective throughout the 90 minutes of play,” Osores said. “Coming off the bench, you are expected to keep up with the game speed and make a difference when coming on. It’s different.”
Irvine uses his formation to lead a more offensive strategy. “Coach Rob’s playing focuses mainly on pressing the other team to make a mistake,” Osores said. “He knows our team has great technical players to attack and can trust us offensively to get results.”
According to Irvine, the Cougars and him are just getting to know each other, but both have to learn each other’s way quickly in order to get it going. It is still early in the season.
“I believe our team’s chemistry is great,” Osores said. “We welcomed the new guys with opened arms. We have built a family amongst us and, as time goes on, we will become even closer to one another.”
Only 17 players have returned from last year’s 27-man roster.
“We are a brand new group,” Irvine said. “When you form a new group there is different stages to forming a group, which are the storming, the norming and finally the preforming stage.”
The Cougars are optimistic about the rest of the season and are looking to work on its errors from last year and improve. “Our team, this season, is working on avoiding set pieces by being better defenders and not allowing unnecessary fouls in our defensive third,” Osores said. “Set pieces last season caused us to lose many games in overtime.”
The Cougars now hold a record of 4-3-1, leading halfway into the season. The Cougars will play three back-to-back home games starting with Vassar College on Wednesday September 24 at 7:30 p.m.