Caitlin Dorsch, Copy Desk Chief~
After reaching the Round of 32 in last year’s NCAA tournament, the Lynchburg Men’s Soccer team is looking towards a third consecutive Old Dominion Athletic Conference title and vying for the first National Championship of their history. In the annual conference preseason poll on August 22, Lynchburg Men’s Soccer was ranked first place with 140 points and nine first place votes.
This year, the Hornets have brought back most of starting lineup from last season, including 2017 United Soccer Coaches Third-Team All-American Dylan McLaurin (Senior Goalkeeper) and 2017 First-Team All-South Atlantic Region Player Austin Kues (Senior Defender). They have started off this year winning their first four matches and tying No. 19 with the University of Mary Washington last Wednesday, September 12.
Sophomore, Forward Abibi Osman has come up huge by scoring a goal against Averett University, a hat trick against Dickinson College, and another goal against Christopher Newport University. Many of the goals that the team has scored have been in very tight moments on the pitch, especially Osman’s overtime game-winning goal against Christopher Newport University following an assist from Sophomore, Midfielder Ben Mackey.
One of the major things that makes the team such a nationally competitive team is their culture, according to Junior Midfielder and Captain Jack Ashby. This year, the team has focused on family. According to Ashby, “Culture and being a family is everything to [this team]. The most successful teams that I’ve been on here at Lynchburg year-to-year are the ones that are the closest knit and are an actual family. This year, we have something special, and the key to our accomplishments so far have been saying ‘fam’ when we break the huddle and actually meaning it.”
Volunteer Assistant Men’s Soccer Coach and Former Goalkeeper for the team, Sam Cannon adds onto Ashby’s message about ‘fam’ being the most important reason for this team’s early success by saying, “Everyone is a family, and we are always there for each other. This really helps their connection and chemistry in games. We are taking each game at a time, and we make sure to focus on family, or ‘fam,’ before every game.”
Lynchburg Men’s Soccer continue their quest on Wednesday, September 19, on Shellenberger Field at 7pm, directly following the women’s team against Emory and Henry College, their first conference opponent of the regular season. Next, on Saturday, September 22, they travel to Guilford College before returning home on Tuesday, September 25, for a match against Roanoke College.