Graduate defender models consistency for young men’s soccer roster

Tim Ritch, a graduate student at Oswego State, is in the midst of his third and final season as a Laker. Ritch is the captain and starting center back for the Lakers. He has played a total of 968 minutes through 11 matches, a SUNYAC high. Ritch has been a key cog in the Lakers bounce back season, specifically because of his work ethic.

“Practices, recovery sessions, the coach does a great job at managing our stamina and our trainer Dan Collins is always there for us. He is really good at getting us back out there on the field,” Ritch said.

Head coach Dan Kane has implemented a new post-game ritual for the team. After every game, win or lose, Kane has the team do a series of recovery exercises.

“It’s a great way to avoid muscle tightness and cramps, and it gives time for the team to talk about the game and get their heads in the right place,” Kane said.

Not only does Kane appreciate the post-game recovery session, but the players have bought into the system too.

“It’s great, what Kane does after the game is amazing. His philosophy is garbage out, groceries in, and it helps us recover and get ready for the next day,” Ritch said.

Ritch is one of the bright spots on this Laker team. He has been playing soccer since he was three years old, taught by his father, and is still learning day-by-day.

“My dad has been my role model ever since I was little in terms of soccer.” Ritch said. He’s taught me to respect the game, respect the other team, the officials, everybody, just go out, play my game and not get caught up in anything else.”

Ritch stressed how important the off-season is to his preparation. “Offseason is just as important as preseason,” Kane said

“If players want to play and want to stay healthy, they have to abide by the offseason workout packet and get themselves working each and every day,” Kane said.

Kane’s style of coaching and communicating with players is very different from what Laker players have seen in the past.

Before his time at Oswego State, Ritch played a season at Onondaga Community College, where he was named to the All-Mid-State Athletic Conference Team.

“That one year helped me get a collegiate year under my belt, and it benefitted me a lot coming into Oswego,” Ritch said.

Ritch has started 39 of his 43 matches during his Laker career.

The Lakers, who started hot, have now lost three matches in a row. All three games were conference matchups, which now sets them back in the SUNYAC standings.

“We can’t look back, always got to look forward, but not too far ahead,” Ritch said. “Look for your next pass, movement and you can’t bear down on the past.”

The team has been struggling in terms of scoring in the past six matches, scoring seven goals, compared to their first five matches in which they scored 27 goals.

“We have a big weekend coming up. We’re all excited,” Ritch said. “If we play like we’re practicing, then I think there are good things to come.”

Ritch has built his entire soccer career off of working hard during practice time to improve for games, practices, and workouts.

“For me, it started in my backyard just kicking the ball off my back wall.,” Ritch said. “My touch improved and moments like that where I’m practicing motivates me, even more, to perform at my best-come game time.”

Soccer is important to the whole Laker roster but for Ritch, soccer and this team have an unbreakable bond.

“I can’t explain the kind of bonds you form with this team,” Ritch said. “It’s definitely what I am going to miss most.”

The Lakers have a young roster composed of mainly underclassmen. The words that come from the upperclassmen motivate the younger guys to do their best every time on the field.

“Some advice for the guys, keep doing what you’re doing, buy into what Kane’s doing, buy into Oswego and just enjoy your time here,” Ritch said. “Dedicate yourself to your school work and soccer, and I think things will go well.”

Photo: Jake Piacenti | The Oswegonian

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