With their first fully healthy side in over a year, the men have scored 15 goals in four games while allowing only two. After a sluggish opening loss to Wesleyan, the Polar Bears are now on a three game win streak.
Last year, the men’s soccer team began their season 3-1, looking to build on a Final Four finish from the previous season. They won only one more game the rest of the year.
Head Coach Fran O’Leary believes last year’s team had a chance for a very successful season until a rash of injuries robbed their ability to achieve it.
“We lost a lot of scorers to injury but we have seven returners this year,” said O’Leary.
Leading the recent charge is midfielder Zach Danssaert ’14, the Orient’s Athlete of the Week, who is pacing the team with four goals and an assist.
Senior forward and captain Michael Gale applauded how well the team has rebounded from their dissapointing season opener.
“I couldn’t be happier with how our team responded to an initial setback against Wesleyan,” Gale wrote in an email to the Orient. “We showed great mental toughness and hopefully we’ll continue to grow.”
The work of goalkeeper Will Wise ’14 is also notable; Wise enabled the Polar Bears to have three straight shutouts, saving two goals across that stretch.
“Will brings a real calming influence in the back. He has a great demeanor and presence. He’s pretty unflappable. But he’ll be the first to give the rest of the team credit,” said O’Leary.
But O’Leary also cautioned against excessive enthusiasm toward the team’s initial succes, which has come at the hands of a few relatively weaker opponents.
“We have to keep things in perspective, a lot of the games we have played are out of conference. The real test will come when we play our conference schedule coming up.”
O’Leary also noted that maintaining the pace of the scoring that the Polar Bears have so far displayed would be next to impossible. Goals are hard to come by in the NESCAC.
“If you look at the history of the conference, it’s a lot of two-one, one-nil games,” O’Leary said. “We’ve practiced hard and focused on the details which has translated into three good games.”
The Polar Bears are faced with their second conference match of the season, against Middlebury, tomorrow at noon.