Men’s Soccer Recap: Bobcats prove their mettle in final surge
|Patrick Jackson ’11 helped propel the team into the postseason with his team-leading 9 goals.|
The 2008 men’s soccer team returned to the NESCAC Championship this year after missing the postseason last year for the first time in four seasons. The Bobcats graduated six seniors last year, including both of the team’s goalies and four key offensive players. But current seniors Nate Kellogg (Natick, Mass.), Clark Winchell (Waltham, Mass.) and Oliver Fadly (Lexington, Mass.) seamlessly took over the team’s leadership roles and successfully presided over a young squad. Co-captains Kellogg and Winchell were both returning starters from the Bobcats defense last season. As captains this season, they instilled a tremendous work ethic and determination in the 2008 team.
The team finished the season 4-5 in the NESCAC, which was a dramatic improvement over 2007, when they finished 1-7-1. At 4-5 the team was the No. 5 ranked team in the NESCAC tournament. Bates started the season slowly, losing five of its first six NESCAC games, four by only one goal. With half of the Bates starting lineup comprised of first-years and sophomores, it took some time before the Bobcats found their chemistry. When the team did begin to jell, they took the second half of the season by storm, defeating two previously unbeaten squads (MIT and Middlebury) and propelling them forcefully into the thick of the NESCAC conference.
The resilience and talent of this year’s team showed as the Bobcats won five of their last six games, including their final three NESCAC contests. The Bobcats took down unbeaten MIT and three days later broke Middlebury’s 18-game unbeaten streak. Middlebury was the defending NCAA champion and stood unbeaten atop the conference when Bates took them down in a thrilling 1-0 victory. Sophomore Dae Ro Lee’s (Yongin, South Korea) game-winning goal against Middlebury sparked Bates’ dramatic run into the postseason. Bates went on to beat Wesleyan and Colby in their final two games of the season to move themselves up the postseason leader board.
In the NESCAC quarterfinals, Bates played a tremendous game against Williams, leading 1-0 at the half. Williams earned a penalty kick and tied it up midway through the second half. Both teams fought for their postseason lives for the remainder of the game, but Williams managed to score both the game-winning goal and an insurance goal in the last five minutes of the contest.
The Bobcats will undoubtedly take the momentum and confidence they gained this season into 2009. As a young team, the Bobcats had numerous players step up and improve this season, including junior forward Jonathan Lobozzo (New Gloucester, Maine), first-year forward Chris Okano (Los Angeles, Calif.), sophomore leading scorer Patrick Jackson (Durham, N.H.) and first-year goalie Greg Watts (West Chester, Pa). The trio of graduating seniors set the precedent for success this year, and the returners will surely rise to the challenge and strive to achieve even greater success next season.