BLAKE LARGENT ‘22 | STAFF WRITER • As the air around campus begins to get cooler, the Wabash soccer team’s race for the playoffs is beginning to heat up. With just four matches left in the regular season, the Little Giants currently sit at fourth in the North Coast Athletic Conference standings behind Kenyon College, Ohio Wesleyan University and Denison University, respectively. Rival DePauw University is now only one point behind Wabash in the NCAC standings, sitting at fifth place. Of the four matches left in the regular season, third-place Denison, fifth-place Depauw and sixth-place Wooster are all still on the remaining schedule for the Little Giants, leaving an NCAC tournament berth up for grabs.
While Wabash currently has a 10-3-1 overall record, the team has struggled at times to play consistently throughout the whole match, as shown in their two most recent losses against Kenyon and Ohio Wesleyan. Head coach Chris Keller spoke of the team’s struggles in those matches. “We played well but didn’t put a complete 90 (minutes) together,” Keller said. “When playing against teams of that caliber, you have to.” Over the course of the season, Wabash has been very efficient in the first half
of matches, scoring on 11 of 66 total shots while holding opponents to a mere five goals on 70 total shots. But, in the second half of matches, excluding overtime, the team seems to lose that efficiency, only scoring nine goals on 78 total shots while allowing opponents to score nine goals on only 61 total shots.
Defender Christian Stiverson ‘19 also spoke about the losses to Kenyon and Ohio Wesleyan. “I think the team has learned a lot about ourselves after those two losses,” Stiverson said. “Those two losses were a bit of a wakeup call to our team as we hadn’t yet played anyone of their caliber. After getting that wake up call, we have increased the intensity and focus at practice and genuinely believe we will be better from those losses in the end.”
With the top four teams advancing into the playoffs, Wabash still controls its own destiny, as winning the rest of its remaining matches will give the team an NCAC tournament berth. But, this is easier said than done. Future opponent DePauw has only allowed two goals to be scored against them in conference play while another future opponent in Denison has only allowed three goals to be scored against them in conference play. The Little Giants’ inconsistencies in the second half, along with tough defensive opponents remaining on the schedule, may hurt the team’s chances at making another run to the postseason.
Despite the pressure, the team seems to be unconcerned with the postseason race. “We need to take one game at a time,” Keller said. “We have good team depth. We need to show confidence and not back down to anyone.” Stiverson had a similar mindset to his coach. “I think it is very important to take one game at a time,” Stiverson said. “When you start looking ahead that is when you overlook opponents and end up not getting the results you need.”
Wabash’s remaining schedule is tough and an NCAC playoff berth is on the line, but Stiverson, as well as his teammates, remain very confident. Stiverson showed that confidence in true Wabash fashion when speaking of the team possibly playing in the postseason. “We use games like (Kenyon and Ohio Wesleyan) as motivation and with the help of our coach’s adjustments, it is extremely difficult for anyone to beat us twice.”
The team will face Oberlin College (1-12, 1-4 NCAC) at 12 p.m. on Saturday at Fischer Field.