Remaining sophomores step up play for men’s soccer

By Jacob Onak

DeKalb | There were nine players in the 2012 freshman class. Now, only three remain.

Sophomore defender Charlie Oliver and sophomore midfielders Bertrand Gaschot and Kyle Crichton are all that’s left of the 2012 freshman class, and as sophomores they are making an impact.

Oliver and Crichton have started all four of the 2013 matches, while Gaschot has started three. Oliver leads the three in minutes played with 298, Crichton with 231 and Gaschot with 231.

Oliver said the loss of the other six freshmen was something he, and the others just had to deal with.

“It was different without all our friends, but we’ve developed a close relationship with everyone on our team so it wasn’t really that big of a deal,” Oliver said. “Other people from our class wanted to move on and do different things so we respected that and just moved on.”

Oliver, a mainstay on the NIU backline, is one of the most experienced of the group.

“All three of those guys are great,” said head coach Eric Luzzi. “Charlie had the benefit, he came in last year and Charlie played every minute of every game for us last year, so even though he’s only a sophomore he’s quite experienced. Bertrand saw some minutes in some pretty big games for us last year and Kyle didn’t see a lot for us last year.”

The biggest improvement of the three has been Crichton, who has seen more minutes than he did all last season (140 minutes in 2012).

“I’d have to say I’ve adapted more to the system this year,” Crichton said. “Coming in as a freshman I wasn’t really sure how it was going to be, so now I would say I’m a lot more comfortable. I think [the sophomores] are a pretty strong group. We all play relatively most of the game … We are all playing pretty well.”

Luzzi likes the changes that Crichton and Gaschot have made to their game.

“Kyle and Bertrand came in this year and there’s a confidence to their game,” Luzzi said. “There’s a composure to the way they play … an added little edge and a work ethic and a battle mentality that wasn’t really there last year. So all three of those guys have done a great job last year and to earn everything they’ve gotten in terms of playing time.”

Oliver said the three are now comfortable with the level of play.

“I feel like we’ve just become more acclimated with how college, specifically how Div. I is played,” Oliver said. “The speed and the physicality of the game, I feel like we are more confident on and off the ball, as well.”

In the midfield, Gaschot has had more of an offensive mentality than in his previous season. He was actively involved in the season-opening win against Cincinnati with his goal, and he was also the one who drew the second penalty of the game. In 2012, Gaschot played in 13 games, starting two of them, and provided the Huskies with two assists on the year, playing against strong teams like Creighton, Akron and West Virginia.

The sophomores are proving the youth of the men’s soccer team isn’t something opposing teams should look past.