The 17th-ranked men’s soccer team began its season with a strong start, claiming two wins in its first two games this past weekend. 

The men traveled to Keene State College for the annual Keene State Classic, going undefeated at the tournament for their fifth consecutive year. The Judges defeated Hobart College 5-0 on Saturday afternoon and beat tournament host Keene State 2-1 on Sunday. 

Midfielder Brandon Miskin ’15, who started in both games for the Judges, saw only positives from the pair of wins.

“I thought it was a great first weekend for the team, getting two wins—especially the hard [game] the second time,” he said. “We battled it out … but we had fun.”

Midfielder Josh Ocel ’17 echoed his teammate’s thoughts on the 2-0 start to the season.

“We really came together as a team,” he said. “The first game we did really well in the second half and in the second showed our heart and grit because we couldn’t score but we kept fighting. It’s good to see [that from the team].”

Forward Michael Soboff ’15, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, started Sunday’s game off with a goal for the Judges at 17:29 of the first half. Forward Mike Lynch ’17 was attributed with the assist. Keene State freshman defenseman Cameron Rogers answered less than 15 minutes later to tie the game at 1-1. Rogers finished off a good series by Keene State; his goal followed a strong free kick into the zone and a header that found its way to Rogers

In the second half, with only 10 minutes left in the game, Ocel put the Judges ahead with a free kick that bounced all the way through and into the net. Ocel’s free kick from just outside the 18-yard box found its way through a group of players before curling into the net to give the Judges a lead they would not relinquish. 

“I purposely crossed it from the corner of the 18-yard box and a bunch of people crossed it in front and it went in the back post,” he explained of the goal.

Ocel also recorded the only assist of Friday’s win, his first points of his collegiate career after missing last year to injury.

The Judges’ midfield depth chart features six upperclassmen to five first-years, and Ocel said he hopes to step up and guide his new teammates this year.

“[We’ll need] a lot of communication and we all have to step up and have big roles on the team,” he said. “You need have big leaders in the center midfield to have a good team; we have a good crowd and I think we can do a lot of good things this year.” 

Though the game was close, the Judges led Keene State with six shots on goal to the hosts’ four. The Judges had 14 shots overall, while Keene State managed just six. Goalkeeper Joe Graffy ’15, who was named the defensive player of the tournament, was forced to make just three saves on the afternoon. 

Graffy secured a 5-0 shutout in Saturday’s game behind a strong Judges defense that only allowed for one shot on goal through the entirety of the game. 

Miskin said that he did not have much trouble adjusting to the Judges midfield in his first games, even if he was not expecting the opportunity to start for the squad.

“I think it’s pretty cool, I didn’t really know that I was going to step in and play,” he said. “Playing with Jake [Picard ’16] and [Ocel] in the middle is [great]; we’re getting to know each other. 

“Jake’s a great role model especially for how I play—he likes to distribute a lot. I think we’ll have a great midfield this year,” he continued.

On Saturday, after a scoreless first half, the Judges gained momentum and scored five times in the second half. Soboff put the Judges on the scoreboard just after the hour mark, at 60:17.  Only a little more than four minutes later, forward Tyler Savonen ’15 added to the Judges’ lead. The pair of forwards comprised the Judges’ leading goal scorers last year.

Soboff answered not 10 minutes later with his second goal of the game, securing the Judges’ lead over the Hobart side. 

“Both of them [Savonen and Soboff] are just great leaders and came in to this year in the best shape,” Ocel said. “They’re the best scorers [the team has] and they’re great role models. I think they’re going to be great captains this year.”

Midfielder Patrick Flahive ’18 scored the Judges’ fourth goal at 77:09 to put the game far out of the reach of Hobart.

“I think we all knew we were outplaying them, and we had our chances we needed to capitalize,” Miskin said. “When we had the first one that Soboff scored we knew the floodgates were going to open.”

The final goal of the game was by midfielder Marcelo Brociner ’18, leaving the Judges with a comfortable 5-0 victory. 

The Judges will travel to take on Bridgewater State University Saturday at 4 p.m.