Freshman goalie learns from first collegiate season

Freshman goaltender Jon Runge had some big shoes to fill on the men’s soccer team, as Oswego State lost two senior goalies at the end of the 2012 season.

The young net minder has made a terrific impression on the squad’s senior captain, Mike Naab, with his ability to handle “getting thrown in the fire.”

“He’s definitely stepped in and done well,” Naab said. “He’s definitely risen to the occasion in my eyes and everyone else’s. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

Runge has also impressed his coaches on the sidelines.

“Jon’s been great as a freshman stepping up to play,” assistant coach Brett Littlefield said. “He’s been ready when we’ve had to call on him. He’s done what he’s had to do to keep us in game and much more.”

But even with all the praise of those around him, Runge is critical of his play and notices the areas that he needs to improve upon heading into his sophomore season.

“I need to work on crosses. I used to be a lot better in the air but now the balls are better,” Runge said. “I need to work on getting up for big balls and owning my box.”

Runge and the Lakers have struggled to own their defensive third in the 2013 season. Oswego State has conceded 26 goals in 2013, an average of 2.17 per game, in its 12 games. Runge was in net for nine of those contests, allowing 21 goals for an average of 2.19 per game.

The statistics do not tell Runge’s entire story, as there has been improvement in areas that are not visible on the scoreboard.

As Oswego State’s goalie, Runge is the leader of the defensive formation and must be a prevalent voice throughout games.

“Being the leader in the back, you need to be loud and not be afraid to hurt people’s feeling by telling them what they’re doing wrong,” Runge said of communicating with his teammates. “You need to be able to give constructive criticism.”

His teammates have already seen signs of a great leader developing just nine games into his career.

“He talks to his backs, which is the most critical part,” Naab said. “He’s definitely always communicating. He does that to his defenders and the rest of the team as well.”

Littlefield is impressed with the squad’s keeper and sees him stepping up in 2014.

“It’s a big step, especially in the back, that’s the last line of defense because any mistake he makes is going to show more than anywhere else because it’s going to end up as a goal against us,” Littlefield said. “We’re expecting him to take a bigger leadership role.”

Runge’s favorite memory from his freshman season has been the friendships he made with his teammates.

“Coming to college, a lot of kids have trouble making friends, and having a good group of friends to get into is a good start,” Runge said.

The Cicero native has enjoyed his time at Oswego State so far and looks forward to making an impact the next three years.

“It’s a great school. I’ve loved it from the start and it has a great accounting program,” Runge said. “It has a pretty good soccer history and I hope to see what we can do going forward and try to play some good college soccer.”

Runge is optimistic that Oswego State can learn from this year and that “good college soccer” can start next season.

“We have players who can string it together,” Runge said. “We had talent but just couldn’t put the pieces together. We’ve definitely had our chances, just couldn’t put them away. We had a hard work ethic and never gave up all the way through to the end. Hopefully next year we can string everything together with some new players.”