Men's soccer welcomes new head coach Bo Oshoniyi

by Maya Moten | 2/26/18 2:05am

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by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Staff

Spring is often a time for new beginnings, and that will certainly be the case for the men’s soccer team as they head into the season with a brand new coaching staff led by head coach Adegboyega “Bo” Oshoniyi.

The Feb. 13 announcement of Oshoniyi’s appointment did not come as a surprise to the Big Green players who learnedof former head coach Chad Riley’s departure at the beginning of winter term, according to forward Eduvie Ikoba ’19.

“[Riley] talked to us in a meeting on Jan. 4; however, we didn’t find out about assistant coach [Ryan Fahey] leaving until later,” Ikoba said. “Initially [he] was still looking at the head coach position [but he] ultimately decided to move on after a while.”

Riley and his assistant coaches stepped down on Feb. 1 from the men’s soccer team after Riley was named head coach at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater, following the retirement of former Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. Before moving to Dartmouth, Riley also served as assistant coach for the Fighting Irish under Clark. At Dartmouth, Riley led the team to four consecutive Ivy League titles during the 2014-2017 seasons, the second time in Ivy League history after Brown University accomplished the feat from 1973-1976.

Several of the players had a feeling that Riley would be appointed as new head coach for Notre Dame.

“When the retirement happened, a few of us knew that [Riley] would be considered for the job, but coming in, all we could do is be prepared for next season,” defender Matt Ranieri ’21 said. “I think [Riley] leaving was a bit of the surprise but it wasn’t a huge surprise since we did know that he was going to be a candidate.”

Despite being coachless after the announcement was made, several upperclassmen stepped up to continue running practices three times a week.

“[We] have from [Riley] a structured practice of warm-ups,” Jonathan Nierenberg ’18 said. “We do some sort of drill and then go into playing so we’ve been trying to follow that. It’s [mainly] been the seniors and [other upperclassmen] taking charge.”

In addition, several players — Yima Asom ’18, Justin Donawa ’19, Nierenberg and Ranieri — served as representatives of the team during the hiring process and met with several candidates.

“We wanted to have the seniors’ input and we wanted to have a younger guy meet [Oshoniyi] as well since they’re going to be here longer,” Ikoba said. “While the group was there they just asked questions and offered input to the hiring committee.”

“[Senior associate athletics director Megan Sobel] slotted out 40 minutes to talk with the candidate and ask them questions,” Nierenberg said. “After that, we would fill out a survey and tell her how we felt, how it went and what we think of the candidate. It was nice because we were able to have a bit of a say. Ultimately, it was up to [Sobel] but she let us meet with them and give [the hiring team] our feedback, which was great.”

During the hiring process, the team immediately took to Oshoniyi.

“Right off the bat I liked what he was about,” Ranieri said. “He gave his opinions and he got straight to the point of what he wanted to do: to keep this streak going. He told us what he would bring with him in order to make our team better. He made a strong connection with all the guys and we [thought he was] one of the best candidates.”

Prior to accepting the role as head coach here at Dartmouth, he served four years as head coach of East Tennessee State University’s men’s soccer team, where it won back-to-back Southern Conference titles during the last two seasons, leading the team to its first-ever bid in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Under Oshoniyi’s leadership, East Tennessee beat top-ranked opponents like No. 1 North Carolina and No. 15 Kentucky, and took four other ranked teams into overtime.

Since coming on as the new Big Green coach, Oshoniyi has already begun connecting with his new squad.

“We spoke with him over the phone as a team before lift the other day,” Nierenberg said. “He just wanted to say that he can’t wait to get up here. He’s really excited to work with us and while this may be a transition period he doesn’t want us to think about it — he just wants us to think about continuing our goals.”

With the arrival of the new coach, team members are hopeful for the new opportunities to come.

“I think it’s gonna be good for the whole team, as having a new coach means that everyone will have to have to perform at a high level,” Ikoba said. “There’s no bias as there might have been in the past. [Oshoniyi] understands that our team is very talented and it will be nice for players to fight for playing time or have a different position. We’re waiting to see what will happen.”

With a new coach awaiting them in the 2018-2019 soccer season, the men’s soccer team hope to continue its strong performance in the Ivy League.