After being handed their first loss of the season by Rose-Hulman last week, the Tigers turned in another win this Saturday against Oberlin College, marking their first victory in NCAC conference play.
“It was a great response to a tough loss on Wednesday. [The game against Rose-Hulman] didn’t bounce our way but this team has great mental toughness and the loss galvanized us and focused us on the match with Oberlin,” said head coach Brad Hauter.
The Tigers were able to catch the Yeomen off guard from the start when senior midfielder Adrian Ables put the ball in the back of the net within the first 27 seconds of play. Ables’s goal gave the Tigers the momentum to carry their 1-0 lead into halftime.
But the Yeomen weren’t going down that easily.
Oberlin senior Louis Naiman scored in the 66th minute of play in the second half, tying up the match.
It wasn’t until the 75th minute that junior forward Julian Gonzalez netted the game winner for his fourth goal of the season.
“I thought we played very well as a team," said senior goalkeeper Chris Yount, who recorded four saves in the winning effort. "We moved the ball around very well and our defense was solid. Our offense put a couple away against a good Oberlin team.”
Serving as the conference opener, this was an important win for the Tigers.
“Conference play is usually a different level of play than non-conference, and with how strong the NCAC is, starting conference with three points is huge,” said junior midfielder Tommy Hinkebein. “We know that we have the talent and athleticism to play with anybody, we just need to make sure we are staying focused and paying attention to detail as we move forward. If we do those things, we put ourselves in a good position going into what looks to be a very tough second half of the schedule.”
Yount and Hauter echoed Hinkebein’s remarks, emphasizing the advantage that the victory gives them.
Now 6-1-1, the Tigers will be facing Thomas More College today for their next matchup.
Thomas More will be another tough match up as they will be looking to avenge the Tigers from their win last season. Thomas More boasts a record of 8-1 and is coming into the match with a five game win streak. Although it is not a conference opponent, the boys are still looking to capitalize on the opportunity to play a competitive and experienced team, knowing they have both the talent and chemistry to win the game.
“The team chemistry is a difference maker this year," said senior midfielder Mitch Reavis. "We’re a family and we know what it means to be a part of that family every time we step on the field.”
Hauter is just as convinced of the team’s potential this year.
“This team may have the best group of leaders I have ever coached; grounded, focused and 100 percent team focused,” said Hauter.
The men will travel to Thomas More today to kick off against the Saints at 2:30 p.m.