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High standards, next level, fourth in the nation

David Janusz (24) and Dustin Lorenzo (3) shake hands with an official at a home game this season. (Northern Review photo/Jennifer Kolb)

David Janusz (24) and Dustin Lorenzo (3) shake hands with an official at a home game this season. (Northern Review photo/Jennifer Kolb)

Fourth in the nation and undefeated.

No easy feat for The Ohio Northern men’s soccer team.

“We have 15 seniors this year, it is the largest number of seniors we have had in the history of the program,” head coach Brent Ridenour, who is in his 19th year at the helm, said. “It is a special group, they are super motivated. They entered ONU the year after we played for the national championship.”

These seniors have led Northern to a 12-0-1 start to this season, with their only tie coming against 13th-ranked Ohio Wesleyan. The team has only lost four home games over the last three plus years.

Senior forward Matthew Kinkopf and senior midfielder Dustin Lorenzo both know the high standards that must be in place to remain successful this season.

“It means a lot, first off, when we come into this program we are immediately held to a high standard,” Lorenzo said. “There have been a lot of guys before us and coach has been here awhile and built the program up to the culture it is now.”

With two full time coaches and three volunteer coaches, Lorenzo believes the team has the best coaching staff in Division III.

Compared to other athletics on campus, football has one head coach and 11 assistants. Men’s soccer has one head coach and four assistants and men’s basketball has one head coach and one assistant.

Kinkopf added that from day one, they were thrown full into the winning culture and that it becomes a part of them.

“Soccer becomes a part of us and we change how we live,” Kinkopf said. “It’s on the field and off. And in the classroom, the way we act, the way we handle ourselves, the way we carry ourselves… It’s more first class, than first. That’s our motto.”

The team took a trip to Italy over the summer where they played soccer and went sightseeing. After bonding in Italy it brought the seniors, juniors, and sophomores closer for this season. Kinkopf mentioned, “I really think it helped us get closer, especially if there [are] younger guys, like sophomores, that don’t really know everybody, and us seniors and juniors have been together for three or four years. This helped us get closer with the younger guys.”

Lorenzo recalled when he was a freshman and looked up to the seniors on the team at that time. The seniors feel like role models to the underclassmen entering ONU. He believes that it is the seniors’ responsibility to carry on the culture and dynamics of the team to the younger, incoming players. It is the seniors’ job to set the best examples on and off the field, so one day the underclass can continue the tradition.

Kinkopf and Lorenzo each have different favorite memories of the past. Kinkopf’s is winning their first OAC tournament in his freshman season.

Their sophomore season was a down year and the team worked hard together to get back to the top. When the team felt it slipping away, they kept fighting and they found a way to score two goals and winning a penalty shootout. In 2014 the team was overall 12-8-1. At home they were 7-1-1 and away they were 5-6.

Lorenzo’s favorite moment was 2015’s OAC final. The team worked together to come back after being down 2-0 with seven minutes left to win in a penalty shootout.

This season, Ridenour believes that his seniors can make their last go-around their best memory yet.

“We are excited for our season and these guys have worked very hard the last nine months,” Ridenour said. “We are really looking forward to giving the fans the opportunity [to see that] we are a really good program, we are top-notch across the country. I am really looking forward to taking these guys to the next level.”

EDIT: Corrected grammatical error

EDIT (October 7, 2016 12:09PM): Further corrected number of coaches and Dustin Lorenzo's position.

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