By Madeleine Wright
Over the past few weeks, Furman men’s soccer team has had win after win. It’s really no surprise that the Paladins are continuing their winning streak, seeing the collaboration of talent, intensive coaching, high morale and team dynamic.
Since preseason rankings, the Furman Paladins have climbed the charts because of their incredible 5-1-1 season so far. Originally ranked at twentieth in Soccer America Top 25, Furman moved up three spots. College Soccer News adjusted their polls as well, ranking the ‘Dins twenty-first.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) have recognized Furman’s winning streak and rewarded them by ranking them twenty-second in their Continental Tire Top 25.
Furman’s players have shined individually recently. Senior Coleton Henning’s was named the Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Player of the Week and Top Drawer Soccer’s National Team of the Week.
The men’s soccer team secret isn’t anything as spiritually arcane as a supposed long-distance blessing from Clint Dempsey, or as nutritiously corporeal as the Dining Hall’s Sunday brunch.
No, it’s as simple as making the shot count.
For the past couple of games, the ‘Dins have been outshot by their opponents. In the game against Stanford, the Cardinals outshot the ‘Dins 15-9 and 7-3 on goal. Yet, the Paladins toppled the Cardinal 2-0.
It happened again against previously unbeaten Florida International University. During the game, FIU outshot Furman 11-7. However, the ‘Dins made their few shots count, knocking FIU down with a 2-1 victory.
The statistics are a little startling, but it’s working for them. Not only is the team finding each other on the field and making the connections, but they are placing the ball in the net.
At the end of August, Furman defeated Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C., by a score of 3-0.
After Martin Ontiveros’ first goal, Furman then put away two goals within 61 seconds. Kevin Pahl found the sweet spot and knocked in a goal from 19 yards out. Quickly after, Clint Ritter sunk another goal at the 83 minute mark.
During the Stanford game, Henning continued to shine, breaking the scoreless game in the second half with a volley from 20 yards out. He found the net again with a header off a Danny Hojaij corner, making his third goal of the season.
After lightning delays during the FIU game, Ontiveros made his shot count and scored 30 minutes in to the first half. Later on, redshirt freshman Eric Steber crossed and found Walker Zimmerman in the middle. He nailed the ball with the header straight into the goal.
The back of the net and the ‘Dins have a very close relationship. The team can only hope that the relationship grows stronger over the course of the season.