Attacking Woes Continue in Conference Play for Men’s Soccer

Going into the season, one of the goals for Coach Chapoy and his players was to always be the team attacking and controlling the flow of the game. In the last couple of games for the Red Devils, that goal has not been met.

Dickinson hasn’t scored more than one goal in any of their last five matches, going 1-3-1 in that stretch.

There is not one clear issue with the Dickinson attack strategy. It’s never that easy. But there are a number of problems that need addressing.

In the last few games it feels like Saul Iwowo ’26 has been on an island. The team is struggling to get him involved. He has not received any consistent service in recent games. Iwowo is often forced to receive the ball in positions much lower than he would like and attempt to take on the whole backline to get an attempt on goal. Iwowo often does this well, beating multiple defenders, but it is not an effective use of a striker and goal scorer. 

Understandably, Iwowo’s solo attack usually fades out. Dickinson needs to be more direct in the final third at key points in the game, playing passes into Iwowo to let him use his strength and creativity.

The team  also needs to find a way to get the most out of their other attackers.Ethan Jarden ’26 is a real talent. He is Dickinson’s premier creator but he often seems underutilized.

Jarden plays as the most aggressive of the three midfielders in Dickinson’s 4-3-3 setup but he also has defensive responsibilities. Often Jarden is pushed back and, when it’s time for a counter-attack, he isn’t available as an outlet. This is often what leaves Iwowo on an island. Jarden frequently receives the ball in situations where there are many players around him. Because he is a skillful, creative player, Jarden tries to take on and beat all of the opponent’s defenders. Jarden does an admirable job of beating players but he is often overwhelmed by a mass of defenders, eventually losing the ball. The first year midfielder  must be more willing to make a quick pass and his teammates have to give him more of an outlet to do so.

Earlier in the year, Coach Chapoy made an in-game switch and deployed Jarden as a winger, allowing him to attack more freely and Jarden quickly found the back of the net.

Tyson Burling ’25, Geoffrey Ogenrwot ’25, and Chaz Smith ’25 are the three other most used wingers for Dickinson. They are all very direct players who enjoy taking on defenders one on one. Although the current tactical setup for Dickinson allows them the ability to dribble and take players on, it does not give them the best chance to succeed. They are often forced to cut inside to more congested areas where it’s much tougher to create. There should be greater emphasis on quick switches of play from winger to winger to make the best use of the space given to them and their dribbling ability. Also, when they do beat their defender and get a ball into the middle, the box is usually congested with defenders who can handle the balls played in with ease. This is where I believe fullbacks have to play a bigger role in creating width and space on the wings. 

Dickinson’s attack often lacks depth and creativity. Adding the fullbacks to the attack would make a big difference. Pushing up the fullbacks, of course, puts more pressure on the defense. That is where the midfield has to step up. The Dickinson midfield is often overpowered, and it is in the midfield where possession and control of the game is won. With Dickinson often dominated in the midfield, other teams can play to their tempo and control the pace. There have been many occasions where the opposition backline makes one pass, clears the Red Devil midfield and, quickly, the opposing attackers are head-to-head with Dickinson’s last line of defense. Especially if Chapoy wants to control the tempo, he needs to solve the lack of balance in the midfield.

An injury to Tim O’ Hare ’24, who was supposed to be a mainstay in the midfield, has left a gap, but O’Hare has been hurt for a while and the team needs to adapt. Alessandro Forero ’26 is a more box-to-box midfielder who plays his role well, yet he struggles to find consistent game time. Including Forero in the midfield and putting Jarden higher could balance out the team. The midfield could look more organized and play deeper, providing more cover and support for the backline.

Dickinson came out of the gates soaring but, since conference play began, they have been knocked down a peg. The Red Devils came in with confidence, wanting to prove that, compared to last year’s team, they were much different and improved. This seemed to be the case in the beginning of the year, when they were a more attacking team. But as the opponents have gotten tougher, the results have taken a free fall. Dickinson have everything to prove and everything to gain in their final five conference games.