The Kenyon women’s and men’s soccer teams kick off their seasons with high hopes: to improve on their successful 2015 seasons, which racked up double-digit wins for both.
Last fall, the women put up an impressive 11-win regular season, though a postseason defeat to rival Denison University ended the Ladies’ hope of a North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) title. Coming into the season, the Ladies are facing the loss of six seniors, three of whom were starters, including two captains. The seniors’ graduation, however, leaves room for the rest of the team to step up their game.
“I am truly excited for the depth that this team provides,” Head Coach Kelly Bryan said. “We have many sophomores and juniors who are ready to step up and compete for these starting positions.”
The team includes 12 incoming first years who will add to the competition on the field.
One of the toughest voids to fill will be that of goalkeeper Alissa Poolpol ’16, who earned a spot in the record books by racking up 17 shutouts in her career, the third most in Kenyon women’s soccer history. Her potential replacements, either Maria Paparella ’20 or Jillian Countey ’20, have not yet played on the collegiate level, but the team is excited about their abilities. To help transition whichever keeper wins the starting position, the Ladies plan to start veterans on defense, such as Campbell Fee ’18.
The team should also have confidence in its goal-scoring abilities with the return of the 2015 season’s leading scorers, Maggie Smith ’17 and Gillian Blackwell ’18. Smith and Blackwell scored a combined 15 goals for the Ladies last season.
Bryan is also excited about the Ladies’ leadership skills. Smith, who led the team with nine scored goals scored as a captain last year, is expected to play a big part in the team’s success in the upcoming season.
The Ladies will begin their season by trying to avenge last season’s opening 1-0 loss to Ohio Northern University. The Polar Bears come to Mavec field today at 5 p.m.
The men’s soccer team aims to build on a successful year that included 19 wins, two NCAC titles (regular season and tournament) and an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament. Led by forward Tony Amolo ’17, who found the back of the net 18 times in 2015, and keeper Sam Clougher ’17, who racked up 11 shutouts in 2015, Kenyon is poised for another run at the NCAA title.
The Lords only lost one player from last year’s squad: midfielder Jeremiah Barnes ’16. Barnes scored two game-winning goals late in the season against Wabash College to secure the regular season NCAC title and against Ohio Wesleyan University to win the NCAC tournament championship. This type of production will be difficult for the Lords to replace.
The Lords enter this season with experience in all positions on the field, bringing back 13 players who started a combined 233 games last season. The team’s collective experience should boost confidence and come in handy down the line.
“Experience is key,” Amolo said. “We have seven seniors who will lead the team this year. Their knowledge and experience will definitely win games for us.”
The team also has seven new faces, who should add to the Lords’ competitiveness and depth. “I believe when the opportunity comes, they have the ability to help the team. You never can tell what could happen during the season,” Amolo said. “It is an advantage to have quality players ready to step up.”
Up top, Kenyon looks to continue their goal-scoring trend after putting away 56 goals in the 2015 season. The team has an ample number of goal scorers in Amolo, Jordan Glassman ’17 and Woo Jeon ’18, who are primed to add more goals to their resume.
Alongside Clougher, the Lords will bring back last season’s experienced defense: David Resnekov ’17, Bret Lowry ’19 and Billy O’Neill ’18. All three contributed to a stalwart 2015 season, with 11 shutouts and only 15 goals allowed in 22 games.
The Lords will begin their quest for a repeat NCAC title and an NCAA national championship today at 3:30 p.m. against Otterbein University.