When a team has success like UD’s men’s soccer has this year, it’s natural and right to point to the seasoned leaders as a reason.
But new blood has also been a huge boost this year.
Freshman Nat Kajiwara exemplifies this. The freshman biology major has been playing soccer his entire life and currently leads UD in goals.
“Coach Hoffmann actually coached my club team while I was in high school, so when it came to applying to college, I knew I wanted to come and play for UD,” Kajiwara said.
Kajiwara said that being a part of Hoffmann’s team for three years prior to coming to UD has been extremely beneficial to his game.
“I was familiar with the formation and drills that Coach Hoffmann used in club,” Kajiwara said. “So even though the step up from high school to college is a hard transition, already having prior knowledge really helped.”
His most notable game so far was against Austin College on Oct. 15, where he was named best offensive player by the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC).
“[The day was] perfect: I think the high that day was 73 and there was a little bit of wind, but our team plays well in the wind so it wasn’t too big of a deal,” Kajiwara said. “The whole warm-up, they were thinking about our last game with them.”
Their last game with Austin College ended in a tie.
This time they were down crucial players, including their center back captain, and at one point had seven freshmen on the field.
“We knew we just had to take them out early and not end in a tie this time,” Kajiwara said.
Kajiwara ended up scoring two of UD’s four goals that game and assisted another.
“Me, personally, when I score one [goal], my brain just resets, and the game begins again so anything in the past just keeps going,” Kajiwara said.
Kajiwara’s skills on the field are results of years of dedication to the sport.
“I’ve always just loved the game,” Kajiwara said. “It’s as simple as that. I’ve just never wanted to stop.”
However, the dynamic of the team has also been a big influence to why Kajiwara plays.
“I love how open everyone is,” Kajiwara said. “It’s all about the team and the game.”
As the season comes to an end, it is clear that Kajiwara was an asset who will continue to bring success to the team in the seasons to come.