By Kevin Schrock
The Findlay Men’s soccer team has had a rough go at it the last few years, finishing 5-11-1 last year and 6-9-1 back in 2012.
However, the amount of talent returning this year leaves the Oilers wondering if this could be a breakthrough year.
Coach Andy Smyth will be entering his 26th year with the University of Findlay Men’s soccer team in 2014, and under his leadership, the Oilers made a trip to the NCAA Final Four tournament.
The key to the Oilers making a trip back there this year will be their defense.
“Jared Lyon will be a starter on defense for us,” said Smyth, “He could be the key on that end of the field.”
The junior has been trying to get the other players into shape and is trying to lead the Oilers at the back.
“If Lyons can get a little more vocal and make that defense his this year we should be alright” added Smyth.
Another player that will be a big factor on the defensive end will be Joe McClanahan. He returns in the goal for the Oilers, but will have to perform because there are some options behind him. The main one of those options is freshman Ben Richter.
“Right now McClanahan has a little bit of an edge for the goalkeeper spot, but Ben Richter has shown that he can play too,” said Smyth.
If the players like Lyon and McClanahan can stay healthy and get the job done on defense, the offense could be one of the top in the GLIAC conference.
The Oiler offense will be headed by the duo of Mark Sleasman, a first team all conference selection a year ago, along with Ryan Poyle. The duo led the team in goals last year and will look to improve even more this year.
“Sleasman and Poyle led us last year and I think they can score twice as many goals this year as they did last year,” said Smyth.
With the season set to kick off on Sept. 5, the Oilers are deep into their preseason work by now, and it has been going well.
“Practice has been going really well for us,” said Smyth, “we have been really impressed by what we have seen on the offensive end. The defense may take a little bit longer, but we’re close.”