By Isabelle Flener
The Lewis and Clark Men’s Soccer team’s 2023 season came to an end on October 28, 2023. It was a chilly afternoon with a hard-fought regional game against Lincoln Trail, resulting in a 2-0 loss. Despite the outcome, the season was one to remember, thanks in no small part to standout player Patrick O’Day and the dedicated coaching of John Dunn.
Coach John Dunn, who has been coaching for two years, is proud of the team’s achievements. Their 10-3-4 record for the year placed them 16th in the nation. Coach Dunn transitioned from a role as Assistant Coach at SIUE to join Lewis and Clark, after working with NCSA. Next College Student Athlete is a for-profit organization that connects middle and high school student-athletes with college coaches.
“The most rewarding part of coaching here at LC is creating relationships with the players and seeing them grow,” said Dunn. “Having them at the junior college level and seeing them go on to a 4-year school and being successful. They have this hunger and desire to compete as a team and improve together in the right direction. Watching them grow over a few months is rewarding.”
Coach Dunn had high praise for Patrick O’Day, the sophomore goalkeeper.
“Patrick is a standout player and a great leader. From year 1 to year 2, Patrick’s improvement has been monumental. He has been fantastic; his role has been massive all year. He has been consistent for us all year, and he is truly a terrific guy. I cannot speak highly enough about him,” said Dunn.
Patrick O’Day was a crucial part of the team’s journey. Beginning to play at the age of 3 or 4, O’Day’s passion for the game led him to Lewis and Clark, serving as the team’s goalkeeper.
“Soccer is a very rewarding game,” said O’Day. “You put in the time, work, and effort and can see the results. Although it can also be very unforgiving, if you slip up in one moment, it will punish you, and you can lose the game.”
There are rewards and challenges of any sport with the importance of time management, especially as a student-athlete.
“Playing this sport in college can take up a lot of my time, so I have to be good at time management. I have to make sure I get all my homework done if I have practice, games, or a trip. It also makes me enjoy the experience more because I know I have to do all my schoolwork to be able to play. It forces me to get it all done,” said O’Day.
Dunn and the team experienced standout moments during the season, including a thrilling comeback against St. Louis, where they came back from being three goals down with just 17 minutes left to tie the game 3-3.
“It is hard to pick just one. There have been lots of good wins and moments this year,” said Dunn.
For younger players aspiring to make their mark in the world of soccer, practice in all aspects helps to make things perfect.
“Younger players should do positive things behind closed doors,” said O’Day. “It can be helping a teammate if they are unconfident, working out by yourself or with the team, staying after to shoot. Everything is beneficial; nothing extra you do is going to hurt you.”
O’Day and the team have a unique birthday celebration that never fails to bring laughter.
“One of my favorite moments is when it is someone’s birthday on the team. We line up in a tunnel, and they have to run through, and we slap them on the back. I think when someone has a birthday, it brightens the mood,” said O’Day.
Although the Lewis and Clark Men’s Soccer season may have ended, the team has many moments to look back on and areas to focus on in the upcoming season.