On opposite sides

Marietta College defender Brent Huck often marked Muskingum University offensive mid Nick Koch during the Ohio Athletic Conference men’s soccer match Wednesday at Marietta Field.

Just like old times.

“Brings back memories,” smiled Huck after the Joe Bergin-coached Pioneers (7-4-1 overall, 2-0 OAC) blanked the Chris Limle-led Fighting Muskies (3-8-1, 0-2), 5-0.

Huck, an MC junior, played his prep soccer at Marietta High, while Koch, an MU senior, was at Warren.

“There was a rivalry there and a rivalry here,” Huck added.

And yet, back in those high school days, Huck and Koch were sometimes teammates.

“We’re pretty good buddies,” Huck said. “We played club together growing up. It’s good to get to see him.”

As a Tiger booter, Hucking was more involved in the attack, and occasionally put a ball into the back of the net. Now, with the Pios, he’s a center back or sweeper, the last line of defense before the goalkeeper.

“I miss it (scoring) a little bit at times, but then I’m growing to like my role a lot this year,” Huck said. “I played it (center back) last year. I mean, I was injured a little bit, so this year I’m back there.”

Koch has always been an offensive-minded player, either as a striker or an attacking mid. At Warren, he scored a lot of goals.

At Muskingum, not so much. He has two so far this season, and four career scores.

“I’ve personally done better this season,” Koch said. “It took a while for me to get going, because I’ve been dealing with some injuries from when I was in high school.”

Koch paused.

“I pulled my groin,” he continued. “I mean, “I did well in high school, but it definitely affected me when I got to a harder level of soccer.

“I finally got into the swing of things. I think I’m playing the best I have in college so far.”

Against the Pioneers, Koch played with a rapping around his left wrist.

“I hyper-extended my wrist,” he explained. “I got pushed in a game and landed on it. I thought I’d broken it. But I got lucky and didn’t break it.”

Koch kind of mirrors a little bit Muskingum’s overall injury situation, on and off the pitch. Freshman mid Blake Horne played with a soft cast on his left arm. Will Debolt, one of the team’s top defenders, was out with a hamstring pull, while one of the keepers was injured during warmups.

Early in the second half, another Muskie went down, and had to be assisted off the field.

“Right now, we have too many injuries,” Koch said. “It’s just unfortunate that we weren’t clicking today. We’re missing a lot of key players right now, and you could tell that by what happened today. We’ve just been unlucky.”

Koch had one of Muskingum’s two shots on frame against Marietta. Overall, the Muskies attemped just five shots.

“Too bad we didn’t score,” he said.

Indeed, the Muskies have been struggling. Up next, they are slated to host Otterbein University (5-4, 0-2) at McConagha Stadium Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We’ve got about eight more games in the OAC,” Koch said. “We need to win three or four to get into the tournament. That would be nice for my senior year.”

At Muskingum, Koch is a marketing major with a minor in business management.

“I’ll be finishing up in the spring,” he said. “I’m excited.”

Meanwhile, the Pioneers have been rolling of late with three straight wins. They’re expecting a battle at John Carroll University (5-5-1, 2-0) at Don Shula Stadium Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We’re heading up there, and we’ve got to come out flying,” Huck said. “It’s exciting.

“We’ve just got to execute the game plan, play like we know how to play, and we’ll get the result we need.”

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