Ingrid Odmark (sophomore), Occidental soccer’s starting goalie, has tallied 16 saves and three shutouts against University of La Verne, St. Catherine University and University of Redlands in her first three games as a starter. The team remains undefeated through their first four games of the season.
Odmark enrolled in Occidental in Fall 2020 and spent her first season unable to compete due to pandemic-related cancellations. This season is her first competing on campus, and Odmark said she is excited to get back to the sport she loves.
“It’s an adjustment coming back after such a long break, because I didn’t play a single game in two years almost,” Odmark said. “I’m just really happy that this is the team I get to come back to after two years.”
During the past year, Odmark said she tried to stay active during her time off, which helped her feel prepared for college competition. In addition to the prescribed training from her coaches at Occidental, Odmark said she played soccer with her friends and practiced with her brother, who was a goalie when he played organized soccer.
“Since we had two, three weeks before we even played in a real game, that kind of prepared me but I was definitely nervous coming into my first game,” Odmark said.
In high school, Odmark’s soccer team won their state championship tournament. Having played on such a successful high school team, Odmark said she hopes to realize even bigger goals at Occidental.
“I think obviously winning SCIAC is the main goal, but I think a lot of our goals as well are just to come together as a team,” Odmark said. “It’s been so long since we’ve had that team bonding and team experience.”
Odmark said it would be great to continue notching shut out games, but she is more focused on improving some of her techniques on the field.
Although Odmark said she doesn’t consider herself unique as a goalie, she tends to venture to the outer edge of the penalty box during games, which allows her to be vocal with teammates. According to Odmark, this is part of how she stays focused and involved in the game.
“Communication, as well, is one of my personal goals to work on,” Odmark said.
The team’s next home game will be 7 p.m. Sept. 15 in Jack Kemp stadium.
Occidental men’s soccer won their first game of the season with a Lukas Howlett (sophomore) goal in the 65th minute. This was Howlett’s first goal as an Occidental athlete.
According to Howlett, the team had two preseason games before playing Soka University which didn’t show up on their record. The team was scoreless in those two matches, which Howlett said led to some anxiety to put points on the board.
In addition to normal pre-competition jitters, Howlett said the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications on the team’s training definitely affected his outlook going into this game. Although he had been running everyday and even meeting with some teammates from LA for off-season practice, Howlett said he and his teammates felt some pressure to prove their ability to the coaching staff.
“We wanted to show that we’re still the soccer players that they recruited before the pandemic, that we haven’t dropped off at all and that our level is still really high,” Howlett said.
Justin Kent (junior) assisted Howlett on the game-winning goal. According to Kent, the two met a few times over the summer in the off-season practices and started to bond then.
When Kent received the ball, he saw Howlett was open and passed in front of Howlett so that he could outrun the defense and catch up to the ball. This type of pass is referred to as an “in the air” or “through ball.” Kent said he initially thought he had overshot the pass, but was confident in Howlett’s ability to score.
“I trusted him putting it in the back of the net once he got to the ball,” Kent said. “I was already running to celebrate, to be honest.”
Following the win against Soka University, Kent said the team feels ready to redeem themselves and he is excited to see the team improve.
“I think we’re going to get pretty far — we have a lot of potential in the youngsters, the underclassmen,” Kent said.
The men’s soccer team’s next game is 4 p.m. Sept. 15 at Chapman University.