The Men’s Soccer team has had the best start to the season in years, winning their first 5 games. Captained by seniors Oliver Steinglass and Joseph Bradley, the Garnet are looking to challenge for the Centennial Conference Championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament — a feat the team last accomplished in 2010. The Garnet, with a core of returning players and the addition of new faces, are optimistic and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
Led by forwards Joseph Barile ’21, Bless Tumushabe ’23, and Ayo George ’22, the team has a lethal attack. This attack is balanced out by an experienced midfield consisting of seniors Trevor Homstad and Omri Gal and juniors Charley Ward and Woojin Shin. This collection of players has been efficient through the first games of the season, dominating the midfield and creating goal scoring opportunities. The team has scored at least two goals a game. Barile leads the team with four goals, while Shin has three apiece and Homstad had two.
It should be noted that the last time the men’s soccer team went 4-0, in 2014, they ended up going 4-6-1 in their last eleven games, winning just three conference games in the process, and not making it the Centennial Conference playoffs.
Senior midfielder Joseph Bradley tries to keep things in perspective for the younger players, who have not experienced losing seasons. Bradley, although happy with the team’s success, thinks they can do better:
“We just have to work on being more consistent, there’s no denying the potential but it’s a grind day in and day out. The good thing is that every guy on our roster is ready to work for anything and everything. We’ve had a couple rough seasons in the past couple years and you can tell that this group of guys isn’t settling for that this year, it’s something you can feel throughout the team.”
Likewise, Steinglass the starting goalkeeper, is happy with how the season has gone so far, but realizes there is much room for improvement.
“I think we’re off to a great start but still need to work on our defensive organization,” added Steinglass. “Conceding [a goal] in every game so far is disappointing and I think once we work out a couple of things we’ll be much harder to beat.”
Like Bradley, three-year starter Steinglass notes the change within the team over the years:
“There are a lot of things that are different between this year and the last few years. I feel like our team mentality has changed a lot and now we play with a big chip on our shoulder … We’re also much more prepared for matches than we were in the past few years. The coaches have done a great job making sure we know all of our roles in the system that we play.”
The team’s head coach is Eric Wagner, who is in his seventeenth year. He is assisted by Ciaran Dalton, Tor Hotham, Harry Ischiropoulos, and Brendan Grady. Each coach with their specific skill set, brings something unique and valuable to the team. For example, Coach Grady’s expertise in set pieces seems to have paid off thus far, as the Garnet have scored three goals from these positions.
Due to injuries and suspensions, Swarthmore’s defense has been shuffled around a number of times this season. All-Conference left back Felix Lanyian ’20 came into the season with an injury, as did right back Michael Gross ’21, who started a majority of the games last season.
In their absence, paired with a combination of Ben Lau, Harry Nevins, and Jason Mueth in the backfield, Derick Mueth ’23 and Sean Nolan ’23 logged significant minutes. Their ability, as first years, to compete at the varsity level illustrates the depth the Garnet possess — depth that has been lacking in years past. Typically five to six players come off the bench each game.
The Garnet will look to continue their winning ways this next Wednesday on September 18th against St. Mary’s College. This will be a tough challenge, as St. Mary’s hold a 4-0 record through their first games. Men’s soccer, however, are looking forward to the challenge, hoping to improve in every game leading up to conference play.