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2022 Preview: Owls ready for a run as NCAC favorites

GAMBIER, Ohio — The Kenyon College men’s soccer team is looking to build upon a strong season as the Owls continue their stretch as one of the premier programs in NCAA Division III.

2021 Review:

The Owls are coming off a season in which they finished 16-3-1, including a flawless 9-0 mark against North Coast Athletic Conference competition. Kenyon’s season began with a 2-1 loss against No. 20 John Carroll University, followed by a draw, but the Owls responded with 14 consecutive victories to end the regular season. 

Kenyon earned the top seed in the NCAC postseason tournament with the Conference’s only undefeated record and secured an 8-0 win over Wabash College in the semifinal match before falling 1-0 to Denison University in the NCAC Tournament Final. Kenyon earned an NCAA Tournament berth after finishing as the NCAC Champions and the runners-up in the NCAC Tournament. The team secured a 4-1 victory over Catholic University in the opening round before falling 2-1 against No. 8 Messiah University in the second round.

Preseason Polls:

This season, the Owls were selected 17th in the United Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Top-25 Poll released on Aug. 2, matching their end-of-season rank from 2021. Kenyon was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the North Coast Conference in a poll released on Aug. 18. The Owls received seven of the nine available first-place votes.

Coach’s Overview:

Head Coach Chris Brown, who enters his 18th season at the helm for the Owls, was named the NCAC Coach of the Year for the third time in his career (2015, 2018) last season. With 16 victories last year, Brown is up to 219 wins in his 17 seasons at Kenyon. The total also includes 14 wins in the NCAA Tournament over the previous eight seasons. Additionally, the Kenyon men have gone unbeaten in its last 43 conference regular-season matches dating back to Oct. 1, 2016.

Since stepping on campus, Brown’s teams have featured 93 all-conference selections, seven NCAC Defensive Players of the Year, five NCAC Newcomers of the Year, two NCAC Offensive Players of the Year, and two NCAC Midfielders of the Year. On top of that, Brown coached 22 players who combined to earn 40 All-Region honorees, as well as 13 players who combined for 23 All-America awards. Last year’s squad included NCAC Defensive Player of the Year Luke Muther and NCAC Newcomer of the Year Gerardo Martinez. Scott Upton, Martinez, and Muther were named to that 2021 All-NCAC First-Team, while Sam Carson, Sebastian Gaese, Aidan Burns, and Sam Hosmer-Quint were All-NCAC Second-Team honorees.

Coach’s Quote:

“We played well in our first scrimmage on Saturday,” said Brown. “I think we have some talented new players that, with the right work ethic, will fit right in. The lads have high aspirations for the 2022 season, but, as ever, we’ll need a bit of luck and for injuries not to become a major hindrance for us to push on.”

Key Returners:

The 2022 Owls roster welcomes back 29 players from the 2021 squad, including six of Kenyon’s seven All-NCAC honorees in Upton, Martinez, Muther, Burns, Gaese, and Carson. Gaese led the team with a conference-high 12 goals last season, including three game-winners against Transylvania, Wabash, and DePauw. His 27 points paced the Owls, and he started each of the team’s 20 games. Upton and Martinez finished 2021 with 19 points apiece, tied for second on the team. Martinez led the Owls with nine assists and added five goals, while Upton was second in assists with seven while adding six goals. Kenyon also brings back goalkeeper Jack Pedreschi, who compiled a 14-2 record while starting 14 of 16 games played, securing 23 saves, and notching a 0.57 goals against average, good for a .742 save percentage.

Key Departures:

Kenyon will be without All-NCAC second-team defender Sam Hosmer-Quint (2 goals) and goalkeeper Ian McInturf (6 starts, 1.08 goals against average) as the pair of seniors’ time with the program came to a close but will retain the rest of their 2021 roster. The 2022 Owls also welcome 10 newcomers, including eight freshmen.

Schedule Overview: 

The Owls open their 2022 campaign with a scrimmage against Otterbein University on Saturday, Aug. 27, in Gambier, Ohio at 4 p.m. on Mavec Field. Kenyon’s first regular season contest kicks off at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Sep. 1, as the Owls host Ohio Northern University. The team will then hit the road for a six-game road trip before returning home on Sep. 24 to host Case Western Reserve University in their final non-conference bout. Kenyon’s NCAC slate commences on Saturday, Oct. 1, as they host The College of Wooster at 3:30 p.m. on Mavec Field in Gambier, Ohio. The NCAC Tournament is scheduled to run from Nov. 2-5.

How to Follow:

Fans can follow men’s soccer throughout the season via the following links: 

Live coverage (stats and video) – https://athletics.kenyon.edu/live 

Twitter and Instagram – @KenyonSports

YouTube – @KenyonAthletics

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