A fall season (and semester) is here, which means every team gets a new chance. While some of Otterbein's fall sports teams look to bounce back from disappointing campaigns, others look to emulate last season's performance.
Head coach Tim Doup enters his eighth year leading the Cardinals looking to rebound from a rebuilding 2-8 campaign a season ago.
“Our expectation is to get back to a winning record,” said Doup. “Our expectation is to always get back in to the first half of our conference.”
Expect to see junior Bryce Hall under center again this fall alongside other returning starters like senior offensive linemen Winston Spiker and Anthony Andrews, sophomore Nick Hopper who started the final seven games of last season. Defensively, the team will get a strong returning group led by senior linebacker Ryan Tuchow. Tuchow was named second-team All-OAC in 2018 after racking up 94 tackles, good for fourth in the conference.
“We found some guys who can play on Saturday,” Doup said after their annual scrimmage with nearby Denison University. “We just have to keep getting better and scrimmages always give us a chance to see who is ready and who isn’t.”
The Cardinals opened up their season on the road against Ohio Wesleyan University where they fell 22-10. The Cards had beaten the Battling Bishops the past two consecutive seasons by a combined score of 46-22.
The women’s volleyball team finished 21-9 last season, including an 8-1 conference record and finishing 1-1 in the OAC Tournament. The team will be young, as Ashlyn Leon returns as the only senior on the squad. Leon will be relied on heavily by the young squad as she enters the season ranked third-all time at Otterbein with 1,626 career digs.
Head coach Monica Wright enters her 13th season at the helm with a 239-146 overall record since joining the Cardinals in 2007. Her team, now 8-1, is fresh off a 3-0 sweep of #24 Illinois Wesleyan.
Eight seniors and twelve juniors will take the field this season for head coach Brandon Koons, the winningest women's soccer coach in conference history. Ten of the eleven starters are returning from last year, which means team chemistry will be in the Cardinals' favor.
“This season is special because now we are a mature team filled with juniors and seniors,” said senior defender Katie Best. “We have a different mentality now because we have a target on our back. We talk a lot about the difference between winning a championship and defending one.”
After a 17-3-1 record last season, the team has already jetted off to an undefeated 4-0 record while outscoring their opponents 16-2. Through the three games, sophomore Delaney Earl has netted seven goals while juniors Emily Ganz and Bella Shivley have each totaled nine points during the stretch.
Goalkeeper Erin Gordon will be between the pipes this year, as the junior has only allowed one goal of nine total shots through three games.
There seems to be little doubt that the Cardinals have fielded one of the best teams in the conference and if their start to the season is any indication, this could be a special year for the club.
After posting an 8-8 record last season, the Cardinals have already split their first four matches. They split their two games at the North Country Classic in Potsdam, New York, won their home opener over Oberlin, and lost their most recent match at Hanover.
Head coach Jason Griffiths will have six seniors to rely on this year, all of which have at least two years of starting experience, including goalkeeper Collin Hoffmann. Hoffmann boasted a 1.55 goals-against average in 12 starts last season.
Men’s and Women’s Golf
Brian Booher oversees both the men’s and women’s golf teams where he is entering his seventh year as the head coach for the women’s team and sixth year for the men’s team. The women’s team enjoyed a third place finish out of eight teams in the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships last season. The team will have only one senior returning this season Maddie Durbin, who compiled an 86.2 stroke average last year which placed third on the team, while underclassmen make up the rest of the unit.
Meanwhile, the men finished first of nine teams in their OAC championship but placed 26th out of 42 teams in the NCAA Championships held in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
“Our expectations are definitely high this year since we have a lot of returning guys,” said senior Tyler Dunfee. “Coming off of a sweep at (OAC) Conference but an underwhelming finish at the National Championship last year, made us more motivated to compete and win.”
Those returning golfers are Kurt Fortman, Sam Marty, Johnny Peck, and Spencer Jordan.
“The team has always been great in OAC play, but we want to be great on a national level,” Dunfee continued. “With the talent and experience this team has gotten over these past seasons, I’m sure I can speak for most of them when I say it’s time to start cashing in.”
Each team has played in at least one tournament, but the highlight has been the men's top-three finish at the Ohio Dominican Classic.
Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
This season brings a lot of hype surrounding the men’s cross country team as the team won its first OAC title since 2004, along with its first All-Ohio title since 2005, and made its first appearance at the NCAA Championships since 1995. The teams participated in the Wooster Invitational last weekend where senior Jacob Thompson finished with his first collegiate cross country win with a time of 20:51 over the four-mile course for the men’s.
While the men’s team is just now bursting onto the scene, the women’s team is trying to maintain their winning ways. The women's team has clinched four straight OAC, All-Ohio titles, and a pair of trips to the NCAA Championships since 2015. They will look to replace Katy Foltz, Heather Sandvik, and two-time All-American Claire Lamb in their journey to continued success. Seniors Allison Rogiers, Allison Currey and juniors Lorenza Savini, Sydney Smith are expected to play huge roles in filling those shoes.
The cross country home opener for both of Dara Ford's squads is the Otterbein Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 10:45 a.m.