Fordham Men’s Soccer is Different


Junior Joergen Oland has become one of the top players for the Rams (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics).

By Andrew Posadas

Junior Joergen Oland has become one of the top players for the Rams (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics).

Walking out of McGinley Center, I noticed a group of fellow students walking by playing with a soccer ball. As our paths crossed, I playfully shouted out, “Hey fellas! Your best four against my best four!”
I was confident. Why wouldn’t I be? I had walked out of McGinley Center with the Big 3 of Fordham men’s soccer.

Janos Loebe and Rashid Nuhu are in the midst of their senior year, focused on culminating their sensational college soccer careers with another NCAA tournament run. Joergen Oland has already contributed immensely in his first three years and will undoubtedly be the leader for the Rams next season as a senior.

All three players were gracious enough to sit down with me and talk Fordham soccer.

Their journeys to Fordham are different but they all began outside of the United States. Janos Loebe grew up in Germany in a soccer-centric family. His father played professionally. Many remember his older brother Jannik, a former soccer player here at Fordham with whom Janos played for three years. As Janos put it, “when your whole family is playing soccer, it’s easy to get into it as a child.”

Rashid Nuhu’s father also played soccer. Living in Ghana, soccer was the nation’s most popular sport; kids played soccer everywhere, even in the streets. Nuhu recalled following his older brother to playgrounds, where shooting around helped him find his calling. “Sometimes I would stay in the goal and he would just kick balls at me,” he chuckled, citing that as his introduction to being a goalkeeper.

Joergen Oland’s introduction to soccer also came as a child. In Norway, Oland would play in the backyard with his mom, where soccer became a big part of his life. On top of this, all of his childhood friends played soccer too, only making it easier for him to embrace the sport. Soccer seemed to fall into place very naturally for Oland, as was the case for Loebe and Nuhu.

Their abilities as soccer players would eventually bring them all to the Bronx to play for Fordham. Oland wanted to try something different. He was playing in Norway but dealing with injuries at the time. His girlfriend, who also attended Fordham, introduced him to college soccer in the United States. An agency in Norway helped Oland get into contact with Fordham, among other colleges. After talking to head coach Jim McElderry and visiting the campus, Oland decided Fordham was the place for him.

While playing in Ghana, Nuhu was introduced to the prospect of playing high school soccer in America. Nuhu played high school soccer in Connecticut before being introduced to Fordham by Nathaniel Bekoe, a midfielder who played for the Rams and grew up with Nuhu in Ghana. He also spoke about how visiting Fordham and seeing the sights of the city made him fall in love with New York.

As for Loebe, he had to make a decision on whether to go professional in Germany or try college soccer in the states. Like Oland, Loebe also had an agency help him get into contact with schools. The difference in his case was that his older brother Janik had committed to Fordham a year earlier. His brother being at Fordham introduced Loebe to the Rose Hill campus and the city of New York. Loebe, Nuhu and Oland were in agreement that being around Manhattan was a major plus in going to Fordham.

Loebe and Nuhu spoke about the vision McElderry had in mind when they arrived four years ago. Fordham had just come off an A-10 championship. Nevertheless, McElderry said their arrival made the team stronger. “They both immediately made us better and helped push the team to even higher levels,” he said.

Coming in a year after, Oland admitted that the roster being stacked with talent helped in his decision to come to Fordham. “I knew I came to a good team, and that’s ultimately why I came here: to play with good players at a high level,” he said.

McElderry praised Oland as being someone who came onto this team ready to contribute to an already solid team. He said Oland “has been full of life and energy since the day he stepped on campus” while surmising that he “has the ability to joke around with the team, but also know when it is time to work hard and compete in both training and in matches.”

The answer to “What is your favorite memory?” was easy for Nuhu and Loebe. They point to last year’s tournament run and the big wins against ACC teams Virginia and Duke. However, calling it a “Cinderella run” is something they weren’t on board with.

“I know reporters love that term but it makes me mad”, Oland said. They felt that from the start of last season, they thought a run to the national championship was possible, so “Cinderella” shouldn’t apply to their run.

Both Loebe and Nuhu were passionate about their desires to continue playing soccer at the next level following their graduations this year. They did mention that being able to earn a degree at Fordham is a great plan B. Loebe will earn a degree in Business Administration while Nuhu receive his degree in Economics.

Next season, Oland will be called upon to be the unquestioned leader of this team. McElderry has faith in him, saying he expects Oland “will set the standard on how hard we work as a team and will continue to set the bar for our team at the highest level going into 2019.”

As Nuhu said to me at the end of our interview, the soccer team at Fordham is different, and I believe it. This team is different. They’re different because the coaches and players created a welcoming, winning culture that is sure to last for years to come.