1-on-1 with Colin Skelly '14
This week I sat down with men's soccer midfielder Colin Skelly '14 to discuss the team's season thus far, international recruiting and how Ivy League play is shaping up.
The team has had some tough extra-time losses this season against top-ranked teams, including No. 6 University of Connecticut and No. 9 University of New Mexico. What do you think those games came down to?
CS: I'd say we play one of the strongest schedules in all of college soccer. In those close overtime games, a lot of it comes down to having the confidence and belief to pull them out. I think we're starting to get that confidence and it's shown in the past few games, and we hope to carry it forward. Knowing that we've played top teams like New Mexico, UConn, [Southern Methodist University and Boston College] while the other Ivies haven't gives us an advantage in Ivy games.
You have six new freshmen on the team. How have they meshed with the team and contributed thus far?
CS: This is the deepest team we've ever had in my time here. We've had a lot of players scoring and contributing significantly. It's great that we have so much depth since we've also had a lot of injuries this year. Both the freshmen and other years have been able to come in and maintain the level of play, which is great.
Two international freshmen, one from Italy and one from Zimbabwe, bring the total count of international players on your roster to seven. How important is international recruiting in college soccer?
CS: I think the international recruiting is very beneficial for our program. It brings a very different dynamic to the team. All the international guys have a different style of play and different experiences that they bring to the table. European, African and American soccer are all really different, and to be able to have all those styles on the team is awesome. I think college soccer is trending toward more international recruiting as well.
Injuries have sidelined a lot of the starting lineup for parts of this year. What do you think has led to so many injuries?
CS: There's really nothing that can explain it other than being unlucky. Some years it happens and you just have to adapt, and with our depth we've been able to do that. [Strength and conditioning] coach [Jeff] Butler has been great with introducing injury prevention initiatives and strength training. Our depth has also been critical since we've had these injuries.
You guys took down a solid University of Pennsylvania team, 3-1, this weekend in front of a rowdy crowd at Burnham. How much does a home field advantage help, especially in Ivy play?
CS: The crowd definitely plays a big role at home. There's nothing quite like a Saturday night game at Burnham. We rarely lose on Burnham and expect to win every home game, and the crowd is a huge part of that.
With a 2-1 Ivy record, these next four Ivy games are very important in earning a berth into the NCAA tournament. What are you focusing on to prep for these next games?
CS: I think the big thing is taking it one game at a time. The past two years I've been here, we've been in a similar situation and went on a run. We control our own destiny, which is huge. I think we can definitely do it, and I think we will.
What are your thoughts on the game with Brown University on Nov. 9, which will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel?
CS: The nationally televised game against Brown is a reward that I feel we have earned as a program. Oftentimes Ivy League programs get overlooked because they do not have the big names of some of the other schools. The televised game shows we are being recognized on the national stage. Both Dartmouth and Brown have had a lot of success in the past few years, and it is going to be a hard fought game. Having it as a home game is also a big advantage because of the fans we have here at Dartmouth. Last year we played at Brown for the Ivy League championship, and our fans dominated the Brown fans. We are extremely fortunate to have such a great fan base, and I am very excited to see the turnout for the game.
How much do you think the success of alumni Craig Henderson '09, Dan Keat '10 and Lucky Mkosana '12, all of whom are now playing professionally, helps with recruiting?
CS: Having professional players helps a lot with recruiting. Not many programs can say they are able to consistently turn out professional players. The fact that we are able to produce professionals really shows the high level of soccer that is played in the Ivy League. It helps in recruiting in terms of demonstrating how strong our program is, but coach [Jeff] Cook also does a great job helping players with professional aspirations with his connections. This encourages players with professional aspirations to come to Dartmouth, which in turn helps our program.