FAIRBORN — Wright State University’s men’s soccer team is in contention, in a close race for the Horizon League regular season title. Defender Austin Kinley could give the Raiders an edge with his skills on both sides of the ball.
Kinley has proven to be a lock-down defender, but he has also shown flashes of his offensive efficiency this season. Against Duquesne, he scored the lone goal off a free kick. He tacked on another one versus the University of Illinois-Chicago, a few days later.
“In the offseason I worked more on my offensive game with crosses and my shot,” Kinley said. “I think it’s also my teammates pushing me harder.”
WSU coach Bryan Davis says Kinley has a strong work ethic and has made great strides in his commitment to the team.
“Austin has grown a lot as a player and is truly embracing his role with the team,” Davis said. “He’s capable of a lot. The volume of work he puts in training and on his own will determine how far that goes.”
On the defensive end, Kinley added communication as a key.
“On the defensive end if you get caught ball watching, there is a runner that goes behind you. If I’m on the ball, the second defender tells me which way to force him,” Kinley said. “In training and games, we work on that communication so we have confidence to be able to defend.”
Kinley’s mother, Krystal, is a former Raider women’s soccer player. Davis was Kinley’s brother’s club coach. Those connections, a close distance from his hometown of Xenia and being impressed by the athletic department and facilities, sealed his decision to choose WSU.
As a freshman in 2015, Kinley was redshirted. He admits it was during this time that his confidence in his ability to play was low. Then he started texting and having conversations with his now former teammate Jake Stovall about it, which ultimately renewed his drive to continue playing.
“He (Stovall) was one of the biggest reasons why I continued playing soccer, because he kept bringing me up every day in practice,” Kinley said. “I can’t thank him enough for that.”
Now Kinley’s current teammates have pushed him to retain his effort on the pitch every day.
“We strive for each of us to get better every single day on the field so we can ultimately reach our main goal, which is making the NCAA tournament,” Kinley said. “I wouldn’t be who I am now if I wasn’t around this group of guys.”
When he is on the field, Kinley says he feeds off of the emotions he has to stay motivated. He does a pregame prayer before each game and gets the support of his teammates, coaches and mother who is cheering for him in the stands.
“That’s very important to me, because they’re always there supporting me no matter what,” Kinley said. “My emotions go to another level in a game.”
Kinley is a business student with a focus in marketing. He hopes to work for a sports organization one day and play soccer professionally, if he gets the opportunity.
Though he has shown offensive prowess this season, Kinley says playing at defender has a unique feeling when taking the ball away from the opposing team.
“It’s a good feeling not allowing the other team to do much against you,” Kinley said.
Story courtesy of Alan Hieber and Wright State University Athletics.