This article originally appeared in the Empire State Tribune, the student newspaper of The King’s College.
The King's College men's soccer team punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 3-0 win over Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Science. The team had a solid defensive effort, backed by two goals from freshmen striker Spencer Smith and one from sophomore midfielder Anton Soerlin.
The Lions scored in the 12th minute of the first half, as Smith was able to kick the ball just under Albany's diving goalie, with an assist from sophomore midfielder Edvin Loefgren. After the quick start, the Lions were unable to capitalize on a series of shots on goal throughout the first half and the first 15 minutes of the second half. Although they missed shots, their defense locked down, not allowing Albany to score even once.
"They did everything we asked them to," said head coach Tom Harman. "We knew this was going to be a tough game and we knew we needed our defense to step up. We knew that as long as we all did our jobs, we would win, and that's what we did. It's been a collective effort and everyone did their job great."
Harman was impressed with how his defense played today, helping set the offense up with opportunities to score. Smith took advantage of those opportunities with his two goals, his 16th and 17th goals of the season.
"I was nervous coming in to this game. I had a lot of pressure on my back, but honestly, that just motivated me," Smith said.
Smith was able to score once more in the 60th minute of the game, as a kick by another player bounced off the crossbar and landed in front of him. He put the ball into the back of the goal with ease as the goalkeeper just stood there.
Fifteen minutes later, in the 76th minute of the game, Soerlin was able to increase the lead, stealing the ball from a defender and taking advantage of the goalkeeper being out of position, sending the ball to the far side of the net with a beautiful arcing kick.
Both Smith and Soerlin have had big impacts on the team this season. Smith leads the team in goals as a freshman. However, he said he would not have been able to do so without the support and mentorship of the four seniors on the team.
These four seniors- Nick Beckman, Tom Champlin, Nolan Wolfe, and Luke Borchelt- were honored before the game on their senior night. Coach Harman presented each of them with plaques and spoke about their impact on the team.
"This season the seniors welcomed in a whole bunch of guys. They've set the tone for what we expect from our players on and off the field, what we expect from our athletes at King's," Harman said. "Without people like Craig, Ben and Luke there would be no soccer program here. There was nothing here when they started and they were the ones who saw through it and stuck to it. They've been phenomenal."
Craig Wishart played a big role in the game notching two saves. He has allowed only seven goals all season, over the course of 12 games played. Wishart has 37 saves on the season, for a saving percentage of .841. However the players all refused to take credit for their success, instead attributing it to a total team effort.
"We played amazing tonight," Soerlin said. "We started the season off well, but we got run over in our first real test of the season. That was a wake up call for us. Since then we've been working together as a team, not individual players, we're a great team. Our defense was super disciplined tonight."
With the win, the Lions have locked their spot in the postseason. Smith, Soerlin, and the rest of the team celebrated in front of a crowd of over 30 King's students at the game. However, coach Harman didn't relish in the moment with his team.
"I don't get too happy about things like that. I'm already focused on the next game," Harman said. "I'm focused on winning our next game and winning through the playoffs. Eventually, I'll think about how this is a nice achievement, but for right now, I'm thinking about who will we draw, who will we play in the playoffs, what we need to work on."
Harman said the team needs to work on slowing down their attacks a bit to make them more effective. He said they also need to work on consistency because they cannot afford to make mistakes in the playoffs.
The King’s Lions are ranked in the top 10 nationally in USCAA Division 2. If they win Conference Semi-finals, they will automatically get a bid to play at the National Championship in November, according to Wishart.
The playoffs will start on Saturday, Oct. 27.