It has become the norm of late for the Mines athletic program to witness success. Across the board most of the Oredigger athletics have become national forces in their sports. But that was not good enough for the men’s soccer team. They have exploded with solid play so far, soaring to an 8-0-1 record. This start, including two wins over formerly-ranked #1 Fort Lewis, has vaulted the Orediggers into history as they became the first team in CSM history to be ranked #1 in the nation.
The men’s team is not accustomed to success. In 2008, they were ranked 24th overall and third in the central region. A year later, in 2009, they advanced to the NCAA championship tournament where they fell to eventual champion Ft. Lewis. Now in 2010 they have returned nearly all of their players and are blazing through their schedule. They have outscored their opponents 26-5, out-shot their opponents 71-38 and collected a total of 5 shutouts in their first nine games.
Frank Kohlenstein, now entering his 14th year as the Oredigger’s head coach, had a vision when he entered the program back in 1998 and has been slowly working on creating better soccer players ever since. But it begins with the athletes. The focus required to compete and win at this level, especially at an academically intense institution, is incredible. Coach Kohlenstein recognizes this need and drills into his players a theme of “just getting better every day,” he explained in an interview. “It doesn’t matter how good you are, there is always something to improve.” But Kohlenstein is very proud of his team and the effort they have given. “This is just so exciting for the players,” he said, “it is great for us here to see that you can be great on the playing field as well as in the classroom.” There is no standout on the team, and no one player that has dominated the opposition. CSM’s success has been a complete team effort. In the first four weeks of play, four of Mines’s players have been named the RMAC/Baden player of the week. From the consistent play of goalkeeper Manville Strand and the dazzling skill of Chike Sullivan to the electric speed of Tesho Akindele and the defense of Jacob Juett, each position has risen to the challenge.
For coach Kohlenstein, he is especially impressed with the actions of his team captains Jacob Juett and Trevor Braun. “They have done a great job of being captains. They have mirrored the philosophy of the coaches on and off the field.” But in his opinion, this soccer team is just the tip of the iceberg of teams that have built up the program to this moment. “All the teams have worked toward this success,” Kohlenstein explained, “Each year, the players believe in the program and we get better.” And they have gotten better, to the point where they are now viewed as the toughest college team in all of Division II.