It may be his lucky shin guards, or perhaps his fan club at every game, or maybe it is just a quiet confidence that he possesses; whichever it is, there is something about Liam Hoban that makes him a standout presence on the soccer field.
A two-year captain, the senior from Portland, Ore. saw the Red’s chances of a national appearance yanked from his grip last year, and he is determined not to let history repeat itself.
“[My goal is] to win the Ivy League and to get to the tournament,” Hoban said. “Last year was so disappointing because we were right in that bubble. It’s frustrating when you work that hard, and you play that well for two and a half months, and then it is over instead of continuing on. To make it to the post season, I think, would probably be the ultimate goal.”
A skilled defender, he was chosen as an All-Ivy honorable mention and also an All-Ivy academic selection last year. A true team player, however, Hoban pushes aside his individual accomplishments to focus on the team’s success.
“I was happy, [but] I was more happy that a bunch of us made it. It’s more of a testament of how we did as a unit.”
Playing well together will be the key to this year’s success, and Hoban believes that the team has the depth to do it.
“In the time that I have been here, this is definitely the deepest team. I can’t think of one player … that couldn’t contribute in a game. I could see everyone coming on the field in their own way and helping to contribute.”
It is Hoban’s outlook and guidance that has established him as a strong leader on and off the field.
Head coach Bryan Scales praises these attributes explaining, “He is just a good leader. He is able to push guys when he needs to. He can have a quiet word with guys if that is the case, and he is always in the thick of it when we need someone to step up and give the group a little direction.”
Scales later added, “He’s not the most vocal of guys, he’s kind of a quiet leader. But … he is a guy who gives information and can really coerce the group and drive the group where he thinks it should be going..”
Growing up in a soccer family — his father played professionally — Hoban has always driven to be the best player he can be.
“He was by far my best coach,” Hoban said of his father. “He was there every day, and it was never that he took me out and coached me. It was just that he was there and if I asked him, he’d show me how to do it. I’m definitely here, in this position because of my dad and my mom, but technically what my dad did for me, that put me ahead of the class in terms of knowing what to do.”
Knowing what to do has translated into success on the field.
“He is very good at reading the game,” explained Scales. “He has a soccer brain that works a little quicker than a lot of other players. He is able to see things before they happen. He is also able to anticipate and react as things start to develop, so he can get himself into a situation on the field where he can make a tackle, or he can win a head ball, or he can make a pass to who he needs to get it to.”
A soccer brain has helped him become a fixture on the defensive line and a hazard to opponents’ attackers.
Entering their fourth season together, senior goalkeeper Doug Allan has come to rely on his classmate’s presence in front of him.
“It’s always easier when you know the guy who plays right in front of you as well as I know Liam. I can feel assured that every game … Liam will have his head into it. He’s focused and ready to go, game in and game out. I can be reassured that he will be there for me, and I’ll be there for him.”
Commenting on his current status, Hoban joked about being surrounded by soccer crazy friends growing up, and admitted he clocked more hours on the field than on a court or diamond.
“I always wanted to be a professional soccer player. That was the mentality. When all of my friends would go and play baseball, I would continue to play soccer.”
With a small smile, he admitted, “I’m pretty terrible at other sports, I can’t shoot a basketball to save my life.”
Luckily for the soccer program, Hoban left the basketballs inside the gym.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss