Section: Soccer

Owls soar to No. 8 after winning streak to start the season

Owls soar to No. 8 after winning streak to start the season

The Owls’ defense has been stout after posting two straight shutouts. | COURTESY OF MIKE MUNDEN

The No. 8 Kenyon men’s soccer team continued their strong start to the season, defeating Spalding University (Ky.), Centre College (Ky.) and Wilmington College 8-2, 1-0 and 1-0, respectively, with both the defense and offense firing on all cylinders.

Kenyon’s first game of the week was at Spalding on Friday, Sept. 9. The Owls started slow out of the gate and conceded the first goal of the game. However, this was the wakeup call the team needed, and they stormed back to tie the game up less than a minute later thanks to a header by Scott Upton ’23. Kenyon continued to press the Golden Eagles and earned a penalty kick just two minutes later, which Alem Duratovic ’25 coolly converted. Kenyon scored two goals in quick succession late in the first half, including Duratovic’s second of the half, making it 4-1 at the break. The Owls continued to dominate in the second half. Upton scored an audacious scissor kick, and Sebastian Gaese ’23, not to be outdone by his fellow forwards, notched a goal with a beautiful backheel into the bottom left corner. Spalding got one goal back, but Kenyon laid any last hopes of a comeback to rest when Duratovic finished his hat trick and Matt Prusan ’24 tacked on a final goal to finish the game 8-2.

The game two days later against Centre took a different form. Instead of being a one-sided, high-scoring goalfest, it was more of an offensive challenge for Kenyon. The Owls outshot the Colonels 24-3 overall, and Centre had no shots on goal throughout the entire game. Despite Kenyon’s high volume of shots and their goalscoring efficiency, coming into the game averaging 5.33 goals per match, it took a defensive mistake at the back from the Colonels for the Owls to capitalize. Forward Sam Carson ’23 stole the ball high up the field before sliding it into the feet of Gaese, who picked out the top left corner and scored the only goal of the game. Duratovic noted in an email to the Collegian that Centre played very defensively overall and commended the goalkeeper for a great game.

Kenyon was again kept scoreless in the first half against Wilmington College, failing to notch a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes. The Owls controlled a vast majority of the possession, but the Quakers’ stout defense held strong until the 70-minute mark, when Duratovic headed home his fourth goal of the week. In his email, Duratovic outlined a point of emphasis going forward on the attacking side of the ball. “We just need to find a way to put teams away in the beginning of the first half or in the first half while playing our style of ball that breaks down teams,” he said.

Both teams battled it out in the midfield, with Kenyon continuing to put pressure on the Wilmington defense. In the end, the Owls managed to see the game out for their second 1-0 win in a row, in large part due to first-year center back Matt Nguyen ’26, who has formed a formidable defensive partnership with Aidan Burns ’25.

The first two clean sheets of the season are a good sign for Nguyen and the rest of the Kenyon defense as they get deeper into the season. Nguyen had only positive things to say about his teammates while playing such an important role on defense. “I do feel some pressure [playing center back], but my teammates have been supportive and helped me to gain more confidence,’’ he wrote in an email to the Collegian.

Next, Kenyon continues on the road, facing Muskingum University on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

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