In September 2014, Archie Kinnane ’18 walked onto campus his freshman year unsure of whether he would play college soccer. This week, after spending three years on the roster and earning a starting spot as midfielder, Kinnane has been named the captain of the Yale men’s soccer team for the 2017 season.
Despite not being recruited, Kinnane started in the first game of his college career and never relinquished his territory on the field. He played in 45 of the 51 games in his first three years, starting 40 — more than anyone else on the team.
“It’s a incredible honor, privilege and responsibility to be named captain,” Kinnane said. “I’m humbled with the trust that the rest of the guys have placed in me, but also we have a great rest of [next year’s] senior class … We’ve been through a lot together and they are all incredible leaders on this team as well.”
Across his three seasons at Yale, Kinnane has just four assists and has yet to score a goal, but his impact on the field lies outside of his stat sheet. In 2015, the team named Kinnane Most Valuable Player, which is indicative of his contributions to the Eli roster.
At 5-foot-11 and only 142 pounds, the junior is far from the prototypical defensive center midfielder. His teammates point to his adroit awareness, both tactically and spatially, as more than enough to overcome for what he lacks in size. That awareness allows him to serve as the first layer of the team’s defense.
“Archie is one of our best defenders,” forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 said. “He’s a smart player and really good at intercepting passing lanes. And despite his size, he wins most headers in the midfield.”
Kinnane has been a steadfast pillar of the team throughout several difficult years for the Bulldogs. In back-to-back single-win seasons in 2014 and 2015, the Atlanta native was one of only four current juniors — alongside striker Ollie Iselin ’18, midfielder Theo Miller ’18 and midfielder Josh Totte ’18 — to remain on the team.
This year marked an especially significant milestone for the four juniors. After failing to acquire an Ivy League win in their first three seasons, the class of 2018 earned its first conference victory — a 3–0 annihilation of Cornell — in October. The win was the first conference victory since head coach Kylie Stannard took over as head coach in 2015.
Next year, those four 2018 graduates, led by Kinnane, will look to continue the team’s progress and climb the Ivy League ladder, and — if everything goes right — achieve their goal of an Ancient Eight title.
According to Stannard, Kinnane embodies the core values of the program.
“I’m very happy for Archie and this team and he will be an excellent captain and representative for Yale men’s soccer,” Stannard said. “He is a quiet warrior that epitomizes a leader by example with his work rate, toughness and selflessness. He embraces the important details and mentality that we stress for the direction we are trying to lead this program … I think it’s even more impressive that Archie was a walk-on here at Yale and has excelled in all facets on and off the field, which says a lot about his character and mindset.”
An atypical defensive midfielder, Kinnane leadership is unusual as well. His voice, as opposed to most captains, does not descend constantly across the field during most of Yale’s games. But, according to fellow midfielder Nicky Downs ’19, when it matters most, the team looks to Kinnane for guidance.
“Archie is a super level-headed guy and always knows what to say in important moments,” Downs said.
More important than his words are Kinnane’s actions both in games and in practices. Kenagy referred to his future captain as “a great leader by example” and pointed to the Georgian’s work rate on and off the field as an example to younger players.
The Bulldogs will resume play in September.