BY KERSEY REYNOLDS – STAFF WRITER
Early success for both the Colonels’ men’s and women’s soccer teams have indicated promising results for this season as a whole. The men’s season began August 31st with an impressive 5-0 win over Gallaudet, with two goals each from Will Newton and Dylan Barth. This was followed by another shutout win against Georgetown before hosting the Bob Allen Nissan Classic the weekend of September 7th. Goals from Alexander Garuba and Richard Feil clinched an opening win against Alma, while the efforts of goalkeeper Bailey Spade held off a crucial flurry of shots in the opening minutes of the first half to keep a clean record for the Colonels.
On the 9th, Centre finished the series with six goals to come out on top of the Classic, and Spade tied the men’s team shutout record with a total of 23 games. One more clean sheet for Spade against Transylvania earned him the all-time record, and the Colonels won a decisive 3-0 victory thanks to goals from Garuba and Newton, with Carson Hart keeping up a consistent pattern of assists. The Colonels stumbled with a pair of scoreless losses against DePauw and Kenyon but are slated to return to SAA conference play on September 22nd at home against Oglethorpe.
Women’s soccer also kicked off the season on August 31st with a 4-0 win over Mt. Union, owing to goals from Meghan Paynter, Alana Hughes, Kristin Dean, and Sarah Sirkin. Their next victory against DePauw marked the 200th career win for head coach Jay Hoffman, with an inaugural career goal from Elizabeth Nelson scored just before the half, followed up by a goal each for Keeghan Francis and Sirkin. After two more victories against Otterbein and John Carroll, goalkeeper Sarah Stodghill earned the title of SAA Defensive Player of the Week.
Stodghill, a sophomore from Louisville, is only looking to capitalize on the Colonels’ early momentum. “This [undefeated record] is something we are looking to uphold in our upcoming games, so this puts a little bit of added pressure on our backs. We are also looking to continue to improve how we play. Although we have been successful in the beginning of the season, we are still looking to improve both offensively and defensively.” She also credits the positive team dynamic that has carried the team through the early stages of the season with fueling their campaign for another conference title: “Everyone has welcomed our first years with open arms and we continue to strengthen this team bond that we have every day we go to practice, games, or even just studying together outside of athletics. This team chemistry has been a major component to this early on success that we have experienced.”
Since their victories against Otterbein and Carroll, the Colonels have risen in national rankings after victories against Denison and Mt. Saint Joseph, currently sitting at number 17 in the United Soccer Coaches top 25 list, and at number 20 in the D3soccer.com rankings. Forward Alana Hughes was also named SAA Offensive Player of the week after these wins. Women’s soccer will play their next three games at home against Thomas More, Oglethorpe, and Piedmont before looking ahead to the SAA tournament.