The Oswego State men’s soccer team has had plenty of struggles in recent years, but the new face of their program is looking to turn those struggles around.
The Lakers have not had a winning season since 2006. After going 4-13 in 2016, the Lakers entered the 2017 season led by new head coach Dan Kane.
Kane left Wells College after eight seasons. While at Wells, Kane’s team had a winning record every season since 2012. With a lot of pressure to turn the men’s soccer program around, Kane said the transformation has been great.
“The players have been hungry and willing to learn,” Kane said.
Kane recruited seven players to Oswego State after he was hired last spring, so there was a lengthy roster that he took over.
“Every day I pinch myself because of the players I was able to take over,” Kane said. “The talent of the players were a major selling point on coming to Oswego.”
Kane said the preseason was a key factor to becoming close with the team.
“I met most of them in the spring, but the preseason allows us to eat meals together, spend time together without distractions, and it made the transition very easy,” Kane said.
During the preseason, the team ate three meals together every day to grow closer as a unit. That was one thing that Kane implemented when he arrived.
“When I came in, I wanted the players to play together more and become more comfortable on the field with each other,” Kane said.
There has not been a shortage of comfort this season with the team through three matches already. Last year the Lakers had four wins and scored a total of 13 goals.
After three games this season, the Lakers are 2-0-1, and have netted 14 goals already. Kane noted the team’s defense as a key for their early-season goal barrage.
“The defense is the reason our offense has had so many chances,” Kane said. “We’re able to keep the ball on offense more and find the net.”
Senior midfielder, Connor Lunduski, also stated the defense as a key to his, and the team’s early offensive success.
“Our defense has been huge, the team is not a one-man show, our defense is why the offense keeps having opportunities,” Lunduski said.
Lunduski has been experiencing great success in the first three matches under Kane. Through those matches, Lunduski has scored two goals and recorded three assists.
“There’s definitely a new feel throughout our team this season, we’re confident,” Lunduski said. “We’ve all come together and have a lot more positivity and motivation to improve.”
Lunduski is the only four-year senior on the Lakers roster for 2017. Defender Tim Ritch is a graduate student. However, Lunduski’s success has been complimented playing alongside a new face.
Forward Hassan Musa, a junior transfer out of Onondaga Community College, has paired up well with Lunduski as a dynamic duo.
Lunduski and Musa have combined for six goals and six assists in Oswego State’s firrst three games. Musa has scored in each game so far for the Lakers, and the duo has combined for 33 shots.
Lakers assistant coach Scott Brown was essential in getting Musa to attend Oswego. Some of the Lakers had also played with Musa previously.
Kane faced Onondaga Community College while coaching for Wells College and knew what he saw in Musa.
“I remember playing against [Musa], and then when we saw him training at OCC, I knew we needed him on the Lakers,” Kane said.
The Lakers offensive success would be difficult without the goalkeeping of the Lakers. The team has allowed just four goals in three games.
Junior goalkeeper, Evan Bogucki, has started two games for the Lakers so far this season. In the first game of the season, Bogucki shutout Houghton College.
“It was great to start the season with a shutout, but it wasn’t nearly all because of me,” Bogucki said. “It was definitely a good bounce back after last season.”
The offense credited the goalkeeping and the defense for their success, and Bogucki credited the offense and defense for his success.
“The goal production we’ve had has absolutely boosted my confidence in net,” Bogucki explained. “For example, yesterday Hamilton scored, and our offense was able to get one right back and it provides a boost for not only me, but the whole team.”
Photo: Jake Piacenti | The Oswegonian