Category: Soccer

Conference champions

Thomas mills
Photo Editor

As the soccer ball nestled itself in the back of Randolph College’s goal net in Wildcat Stadium, senior and center midfielder Brian Cornell immediately began running towards the Virginia Wesleyan sideline. When he arrived to the crowd of elation, celebration and joy, he knew what to do.
“I fell to the ground ‘cause I knew the dog pile was coming,” said Cornell with a laugh. “I was waiting for it.”
Not only did Cornell get mobbed by his teammates in the corner of the field, his game winning penalty kick 90 seconds into overtime sealed the Marlins 2-1 comeback win over the Wildcats. In the process, the team captured the programs first Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship in five years and an automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament.
“It took me a while to kind of grasp what had happened,” said junior and forward Isaac Arrington. “I mean all offseason, spring season and summer is about making your craft better all for that one moment. But, I just sort of stood there. I kinda just took it all in.”
“We felt all along that we were the best team in the ODAC,” said first year Head Men’s Soccer Coach Christopher Mills.
However, the ODAC title game was no easy feat. The Marlins, who had suffered a 4-1 defeat to Randolph College during the regular season, needed to find a way to stop the fourth ranked offense in the country, which was averaging 3.44 goals a game.
Anchored by sophomore goalkeeper Connor Kirkham, the Marlins defensive back line held the Wildcats to a clean sheet for the first half.
“The back line would bend but not break,” said Arrington. “They would not give up. Our defense, phenomenal stuff.”
Yet, Arrington and the rest of the Men’s Soccer team knew that it was only a matter of time before the offensive juggernaut made it’s strike.
In the 76th minute, the Wildcats punched first. Senior forward Corey Sindle launched a long, low strike that landed itself at the back of the Marlins goal net.
“I was mad. I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me,” said Cornell. “This is not happening, not against Randolph.”
“We still had 14 minutes left on the clock,” said sophomore center attacking midfielder Josh Kemp. “There was a bunch of us that were saying, ‘We’re still in this,’ and ‘We still got it.’”
One of the team members gearing the Marlins ready for their counter-attack was captain and junior midfielder Josh McNamara, who had pulled Arrington aside after the Wildcats goal to explain the new game plan.
“They scored and Josh McNamara, our captain, walked over to me and said, ‘Alright, I’m giving you the ball, you’re running down the side of the field and you’re going to put in a good ball,’” said Arrington.
26 seconds later, Arrington did exactly that. Sprinting down the left flank of the Wildcats back line, the junior forward lobbed a perfect ball into the Randolph box. Yet, instead of hitting a Marlin player, the ball deflected off Randolph junior and defensive back Coulton Watson, scoring the goal and putting the game at 1-1.
With neither team breaking through in the final minutes of the game, the match was extended to overtime. Fittingly, the Marlins wasted no time getting in position to score as they were awarded a penalty kick 90 seconds into overtime.
“We got the penalty kick call after Isaac Arrington got taken down by two guys inside the box,” said Mills.
As Cornell lined up to take the penalty kick, no one had any doubt that the senior center midfielder would make it.
“He went right over and grabbed the ball,” said Mills. “He just had that look in his eyes.”
“The look Cornell had walking up to take the penalty kick, I was like, it’s going in,” said Kemp. “He was as confident as I had ever seen him. I was ready to run to the corner and celebrate.”
And celebrate they did. Hugs, tears and joy spread throughout the Marlin’s sideline as the ODAC trophy passed from one hand to another. The win was especially important for the team’s seniors, who could finally breathe a small sigh of relief.
“Before us, every class that came through Wesleyan had won an ODAC title and we had just accomplished it,” said Cornell. “It was a little bit of pressure. But, we definitely handled it really well and got the title.”
“They worked so hard for four years,” said Mills. “They’ve been a part of the program with a lot of the lows and to end it on this extreme high is definitely exciting for them. Something they definitely deserve.”
“We wanted it, we needed it because the last time we won the ODAC title was five years ago, so our seniors had never won one,” said Kemp. “It was due really.”
However, the celebration will be short-lived. After defeating the offensive juggernaut in Randolph College, the Marlins are set to face the defensive juggernaut of Carnegie Mellon University. The 13th ranked Tartans have nine shutouts in 16 games and is 14th nationally in shutout percentage. The Marlins, however, are not fazed by their new challenge in the NCAA tournament.
“We’re not at our goals yet,” said Cornell. “We haven’t achieved our goals, we still have work to do.”
“I’m going to treat it like another game,” said Arrington. “They’re going to have to match us. We’re not going to settle for their level. We’re pretty confident.”
The Marlins will play the Carnegie Mellon Tartans on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Seasons falling into place

GABE HIGGINS
Staff Writer

The regular season for the fall sports teams is coming to a close, and many are preparing to enter post-league play. Many teams had their last regular season competition games this past weekend.
Many teams are posting better results than they did last year and there are a lot of reasons for that. A lot of the sports teams last fall had young squads, some of them with just a couple of graduating seniors. This played out well for the Men’s Soccer and Cross Country teams.
The Men’s Soccer team has had a much better season this year than they did last year. They only lost a couple people from last year’s roster and the experience of the team playing together for as long as they have is showing.
The team currently has an impressive record of 10 wins, four losses and one tie; six of those wins and two of those loses are against Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) opponents.
Last year the Men’s Soccer team finished with a record of eight wins, 10 losses and two ties, six of those wins and five of those losses came from ODAC opponents. The team is in a good position to possibly have a home field advantage during the ODAC tournament.
The Women’s Soccer team had a solid season this fall. Based on wins and losses, there has not been improvement from last season, but this could be a result of the team losing key players.
The team currently has a record of nine wins, four losses and two ties, six of those wins and three of those losses were against ODAC opponents. The women’s team is also in a great position to possibly have a home field advantage during the ODAC championship tournament.
The team is young with only four seniors and has a lot of potential to step up and get this women’s team back to where they belong, which is nationally ranked and in the NCAA tournament.
The Field Hockey team has improved vastly since last season. Last fall they posted a record of three wins and 12 losses, but with a new head coach and solid leadership, the team is currently at seven wins and seven losses with a chance to make the ODAC tournament.
Six seniors will be leaving the field hockey team after this year, but six freshmen came in and are excited to continue playing hard over the next couple years. The team is heading in the right direction.
The Volleyball team is looking to finish this season strong; they currently have a record of 14 wins and 10 losses with four matches left to play. Last year they posted a record of 19 wins and 12 losses with their final loss coming to Lynchburg College in the ODAC tournament.
The Volleyball team is in a good position to improve throughout these next couple years, they are only losing three seniors and they brought in five freshmen. The team has consistently been successful in ODAC play and they are showing no signs of slowing down with the talent they have brought in.
The Men’s Cross Country team has also made strong improvements since last fall. Last fall they consistently finished in the bottom tier of all the teams at meets. They finished eighth out of 11 teams in the ODAC championship meet last season.
This fall they have placed second and fourth respectively at large meets and are looking for a strong showing at the ODAC championship meet in November. The Men’s Cross Country team is losing only one senior and next year they will also only have one senior. They are looking for big things these next couple years with a team full of eight underclassmen.
The Women’s Cross Country team has also had a good season this fall. They have consistently been within the top tier of teams at meets and they are also looking for a strong showing at the ODAC championship meet.
The Women’s Cross Country team lost valuable talent, but plenty of people have stepped up and are working hard for the women’s team. This year’s team has three seniors, but also a lot of young talent that is ready to step up for them in upcoming years.
The fall sports teams are full of young talent and all have something to prove. Championship season is upon us and every team has high expectations.

Marlins strive for new goals

GABE HIGGINS
Staff Writer

The men’s soccer team had an astounding year in the 2012 season, but fell just short of a cinderella finish in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) tornament championship game.
109 minutes of the game had been played with a score of 0-0 on the scoreboard, and Roanoke stunned the Marlins by putting one in the back of the net with less than one minute to play.
Last year’s Marlins went into the conference tournament as a six seed in a tournament with eight teams.
In regular season play, they recorded eight wins, nine losses and two ties. Six of those wins were in conference play, and five of those losses were also to ODAC teams.
Not many people were expecting the VWC men’s soccer team to make it to the championship game of the conference tournament.
Things are different this year for the men’s soccer team. The team’s starters are all back in action. Everybody who played in the conference title game last year has returned this year and ready to roll.
“We’re going to do really well; we have the same team as last year, plus 10 freshmen,” said sophomore Joshua Kemp. “Josh McNamara is a captain, so there is really well balanced leadership, and he will be ready to lead next year as well.”
Kemp also said that their number one goal this year is to go the National Collegiate Athletic Assosciation (NCAA) tournament and win the ODAC championship.
The team has had a great start to lead them in the right direction; they kicked off the year with a 2-0 win over Wesley College and a 3-2 victory over Christopher Newport University. The win over CNU was huge for the Marlins.
“I’m relieved; it took us four years to beat them and we were able to get it done,” said senior Ryan Leslie.
This win is also a big confidence booster for the men.
“I feel like we can beat anyone we play,” said senior Chris Luce. “There is no doubt in my mind we can have an undefeated season.”
Goals are set high for the men’s soccer team, and they should be. The team feels as though it deserves another shot at the conference title after getting as far as it did last year, and all of that was achieved with a young team. This year’s team has the experience and the talent to accomplish their goals.
The women’s team had an impressive 2012 campaign, posting 18 wins, two losses and one tie last year, and they were ranked as high as number three in the nation. Despite a long, hard fought season, the women were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the first round.
This year’s women’s soccer team also has high hopes. It is returning with many experienced players who feel like they deserved to go farther in the NCAA tournament last year. The women are back in full force and ready to prove where they belong this year.
“It’s going to be a good season,” said senior Erica Keil. “[W]e have talented new freshman and great returners who are ready to make an impact.”
The Marlin women have gotten off to a great start this season by posting two shutouts, one of which was a tie against
Meredith College and the other was a 1-0 victory over Fredonia State.
“Those wins were huge for us,” said Keil. “They were big confidence boosters because they were both shutouts, and it was great for the freshman to experience.”
There may be some doubts coming from outsiders because the women are not returning with last year’s ODAC player of the year, Krista Whitmore.
“It’s not possible to replace a Krista Whitmore,” said Keil. “She was a huge part of our team last year, but Angel Horowitz and Allie Ketzler have done an amazing job of stepping up for us this year in the back.”
The women have great confidence in each other, and are excited about doing even better this year. With a young group of 12 freshmen, the team is ready to develop and have a great season.