By Tanner Carlson
The number fourth ranked team in the nation, the Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles from Bartlesville, visited the Moundbuilders at 7 p.m., Wednesday, at Jantz Stadium and left with a 5-0 victory.
Southwestern held their own defensively only allowing one goal in the first half which came in the 27th minute of play. However, the flood gates would open in the second half, specifically in the 70th minute where the Eagles would score their next three goals within one minute of play.
Kyle Pond, head soccer coach, explained his strategy to “Park the Bus” which is essentially playing nine of the 11 players on the field at defense. “If we could get a result in a tie and take a chance then that gets us somewhere towards the tournament,” he said.
Coach Pond’s strategy may seem odd at first glance, but consider that one tie breaker heading into the post-season is goals scored against so keeping that to a minimum against an Oklahoma Wesleyan team that averages 3.2 goals a game isn’t such a bad way to go into this game.
The defeated coach did not shy away to give credit where credit is due, even complementing the opponents. He said, “They’re in a different place as a program than we are, they’re one of the best teams that I have ever seen.”
As humble as Coach Pond is he knows there is room for improvement only averaging 0.8 goals a game this season as his club has been shut out in the previous four games.
Coach Pond said, “Games going forward we’re going to be a lot more offensively, because we need more help on that side of the ball.”
The toughest assignment of any individual player tonight was Evan Van Schie, senior goalkeeper, as 15 shots were targeted at him in 79 minutes of play, he managed to save 7 of them and a couple of which were in spectacular fashion diving with one outstretched arm deflecting the ball out of bounds.
Van Schie would talk about “Parking the Bus,” and how it made his life easier. “I would say that it really helped us out, they had to beat us and that was our strategy and it worked for the first 60 minutes,” he said.
Unfortunately there were 30 minutes left in the game. However, Van Schie said how games like this are a learning experience. “We have potential to play this season, we held them to 1-0 in the first half which no other team has done,” he said.
Speaking of potential, this team has four freshmen, and four sophomores making up for nearly half the roster. One of which is Bryson Barrett, freshman center backfield, who talked about his performance saying, “I think I played pretty good, I mean I had a couple soft mishaps here and there but they’re a great team so if you make a little mistake you get punished.”
Always looking to improve is crucial to future success for the Moundbuilders and this freshman has that mindset. He said “We’ve seen a lot of defensive play so from here on out we’re looking for offense against the next five teams.”
Spirits were not low as one might expect after a 5-0 loss, in fact the comradery between the team is as strong as ever and it comes from the leadership of an emotional Coach Pond. “I’m overwhelming pleased, I love these guys, they left nothing out there and they played for each other, they bought in and I couldn’t say anything better about them,” he said.
Wins and losses can clutter a team’s friendship and trust in one another but not this team. They know the real reason for playing and that is to become a family and make great memories with one another and most importantly something that gets lost in sports way too often, and that is to simply have fun.
Tanner Carlson is a sophomore majoring in communication. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org