As the regular season closes, the Wheaton College Men’s soccer team looks forward to playoff soccer as they have clinched the NEWMAC regular season title and will be hosting the conference tournament this upcoming weekend.
The team, which has gone 16-2-2 has been on fire all year. Wins have come easily, especially at home where the team is currently 10-0-2. Senior forward Travis Blair ’15 expressed how a lot of the team’s success has to do with the work they put in before the season started. “We have been preparing for this since the season ended last year,” said Blair. But it’s not just all about off-season workouts and drills that is part of what makes the Lyons a dangerous team to play against this year. It is their cohesiveness as a unit. The Lyons took a pre-season team trip to Italy where they “got to bond with one another, got a chance to jump start fitness, and get sharp and ready to play,” said senior captain Luke Finkelstein ’15. The effects of that trip can be seen in both the team’s cohesive conference and non-conference play.
If anything this season, the team is quick and efficient in their style of play. In nine of their games the Lyons have scored four or more goals and they have shut out 12 teams. The team has not lost a conference game this season and they kept that streak alive with their senior day game against Clark, which now finds the team hosting the NEWMAC Championships this upcoming weekend. “All of the lifting, running, and overall team togetherness is really starting to show and we can’t wait to see how it can help us going forward,” said Blair.
With the playoffs looming, the team does not have a lot of time to make adjustments to their game and luckily for them, they don’t really need to. The Lyons have been dominant on the field all season. However, if the team hopes to go far into the post-season there a few things that needs to happen. First, junior Matt Dickey ’16 needs to remain strong in net and his backline lead by sophomore Kevin Davis ’17 needs to remain impenetrable. Part of the Lyons success this season has been their strong defense and goaltending. Wheaton’s goalkeepers have been nearly impossible to score on. Dickey has an unheard of .19 Goals Against Average. In addition to the strong presence in net and in the backline, the team needs to continue it’s dominating scoring. The Lyons have shelled teams with goals and it’s been a major success for the team.
“I know that if we stay focused and keep working hard our destiny will be in our own hands,” said captain Finkelstein. Things are looking good for the Lyons. Their season has been a success by any account but a NEWMAC title would make this season a lot sweeter. The team knows what they have to do to make it all the way this year. Now it’s a question of execution. Can the Lyons keep up their excellent play? The playoffs are always a challenge for teams and the men are going to have outdo themselves, to win the conference and go even further than last years second round berth in the NCAA Tournament. If any team is going to push the envelope by out hustling, and out playing their opponents, that team is going to be the Lyons.