The Brandeis men’s soccer team had an impressive season this year, finishing their regular season ranked No. 3 in Division III by the NSCAA with a 16-2-1 record. Additionally, two of the Judges have been named D3soccer.com All-American honors. Conor Lanahan ’16 is a D3soccer.com first All-American defender for the second year in a row. Josh Ocel ’17 was honored as well, selected as a second-team All-American for the second time this season.
Senior and captain, Lanahan was previously honored as an All-American by the NSCAA as well, and was named the D3soccer.com National Defender of the Year as a junior. Lanahan is also the third men’s soccer player in school history to earn All-American honors in two different seasons. He is a Biochemistry major with a Computer Science minor. After graduating, he hopes to go to medical school at some point, but as of right now he plans to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and work with patients in a clinical setting. He is also pursuing his dream of playing soccer professionally or semi-professionally before going into medicine, but even if this possibility doesn’t play out, Lanahan will more than likely find himself playing in adult leagues and coaching. Outside of soccer, Lanahan enjoys staying active and exploring the outdoors. Recently he began downhill mountain biking with his brother, so he’s looking forward for the snow to melt to begin riding again.
Lanahan considers his recent achievement to be “a really big honor … it’s very rewarding to get this honor after all of the hard work.” He has played soccer all his life, starting when his mom signed him up as a child. Lanahan says the seasons all blend together, between working out and the hours of playing with a ball at his feet. In addition to his own efforts he credits his team’s commitment to have inspired his own, and vice versa: “That’s why I love the guys on the team.”
Highlights for the past season have been winning the UAA championships and being one of three Division III soccer players who were put in the MLS superdraft. Another highlight for Lanahan was when the team was only allowed a certain number of players during the championships, and those that weren’t traveling to play made the eight-hour drive up to Rochester to support the team. “It was an amazing moment to be supported by the guys like that,” said Lanahan.
Lanahan speaks highly of his “BMS family,” describing the team as his inspiration. Before coming to Brandeis, he says he has never worked harder for soccer in his life because the team pushes each other and makes the soccer program “so constructive and competitive.” His teammates work hard and he decided to do the same. “I couldn’t watch all of my soccer family work so hard for me to sit and do nothing, and that’s what’s led me to today,” he said.
This summer Lanahan and Ocel lived together, working to improve and push each other along the way. Ocel has another season with the Judges ahead of him, and is currently a Biology major with an Anthropology minor. He enjoys golfing and spending time with his family when he’s not busy with school and soccer. Ocel began playing soccer at a young age and his dedication to the sport appears to have been natural early on. His parents first told him that if he wanted to play soccer then he would have to learn to tie his shoes first. Ocel says, “by the end of the day I could tie my own shoes and my parents had no other choice but to sign me up.”
Since he was little, Ocel was always motivated by two people: his brother and his father. His brother has always been there to offer support “through thick and thin,” and they have pushed each other on and off the soccer field to be better people. Ocel shows great admiration for his father, who was a three-time All-American wrestler at North Dakota State. Ocel credits a lot of his success to his father for acting as a great role model and says, “Every time I step onto the field I play for my family because they are the people that drive me to be better and will always be there for me no matter the result.”
Being named All-American is a great honor for Ocel. He considers it very humbling, stating he could not have done it without his teammates: “This award reflects the team as a whole, not just me. We had a great year and a lot of the players stepped up at different positions. A number of individuals could have been recognized for this award.” Ocel also describes the team as having worked tirelessly during the off-season and the summer. He credits trainer Jason Byrne for doing a fantastic job at preparing them physically for the season.
Ocel says that since receiving the honor the only thing that has changed are his expectations for next season. “Our team has the talent to win a national championship and hopefully next year we can accomplish that goal,” he said. He describes some of the highlights of this past season as the first year they won while away at Emory and the first year they won the UAA conference. His absolute favorite moment was defeating their rival Babson. This win earned Head Coach Coven his 500th career win. Ocel says, “Coach Coven will always be like my second father. He is always there for me and I am honored to be part of such a great milestone.”