Stevie Van Siclen ’18 picked up his fifth and sixth shutouts of the season after denying Middlebury and Amherst any goals in a combined 220 minutes of play. He made three crucial saves in penalty kicks (PKs) to help the Polar Bears defeat Middlebury and came up with two more against Amherst to deliver Bowdoin a 0-0 (5-4) victory and its first NESCAC Championship.

“It’s easy to talk about the penalty kicks as the deciding factor, but in 220 minutes of shutout soccer, I think I saw only four or five shots,” Van Siclen said. “This is easily the best defense I’ve ever played with.”

Still, he enjoys talking about penalty kicks.

“I love penalty kicks. They are the most exciting part of the game for me,” he said. “There’s nothing I’m more confident about in my game than PKs. There’s no pressure on me to make the save. The shooter is supposed to score.”

At least some of Bowdoin’s improvement defensively over the course of the season came from more time spent playing together and fewer injuries than in seasons past.

“Obviously as the season goes on, we have more time to gel as a defensive unit, but I’d include the goaltender in that,” defender Nabil Odulate ’16 said. “We had more time to play together and learn everyone’s style, we learned [Van Siclen’s] style too.”

Van Siclen allowed only eight goals all season, the second lowest in the NESCAC, though he played only 13 games. He stepped in after five games when starter Noah Safian ’17 went down to injury. Although he would only miss two weeks, the team did not allow a goal during that time, prompting Head Coach Scott Wiercinski to keep Van Siclen in the net for the remainder of the season. 

It was the first time he had played competitive soccer in a year and a half after tearing his ACL his junior year of high school. He mentioned that many of the larger programs that had been pursuing him for soccer backed away after the injury. Amherst, whose three-year chokehold on the NESCAC championship ended with his save, was one of those programs. Van Siclen mentioned that he keeps a log of every significant athlete achievement he has completed since his injury and remembers all of the important dates. The win over Amherst came 18 months and 20 days after his surgery.

Four of Van Siclen’s allowed goals came against strong teams—Williams and Tufts—in games where he still recorded seven and eight saves respectively. He finished the season second in the NESCAC with a .843 save percentage and fourth with a .64 goals against average.

Van Siclen was the only one of the four boys in his family who continued playing soccer past the age of 10. Instead, his three older brothers and his father all played  ice hockey in college, and he will as well, skating for the Polar Bears as soon as the soccer team’s run in the NCAA tournament ends. His performance in the NESCAC tournament assured that he would miss the start of the hockey season.

 “I know that Coach [Terry] Meagher is excited to get his hands on him, but we’re pretty excited to hold on to him too,” Coach Wiercinski joked. “Both Coach Meagher and I are supporters of the two-sport athlete. There are really no losers in that situation.”

 Van Siclen was actually recruited by Bowdoin’s previous soccer coach, and when Wiercinski took over the program Van Siclen was already well into his own rehabbing process. However, he was determined to get a goaltender in the Class of 2018 because of questions of depth at the position. Due to Assistant Coach Peter Mills’ strong recommendations and votes of confidence from Van Siclen’s high school coaches, he brought the goalkeeper on without having seen him play. Mills had coached his club team against Van Siclen and had seen first-hand the strengths of his game.

At 6’2” and 200 pounds, Van Siclen is able to be a physical presence inside his six-yard box, fielding crosses and winning battles in the air.

“It’s definitely a different style of goalkeeping,” Kiefer Solarte ’16 said. “We don’t have to win every ball in the six. But that being said, it really just changes the way we work around the box.”
“He’s stopping shots but he’s also not giving up rebounds,” said Captain Eric Goitia ’15. “He’s doing a good job of controlling shots and not just getting in front of them.”