ETSU awaits Presbyterian for Saturday’s season opener
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (August 26, 2011) – The last time the ETSU men’s soccer team competed in Summers-Taylor Stadium the match ended with the Bucs hoisting their first Atlantic Sun championship trophy in program history, and for the first time on Saturday, the Buccaneers will reenter their home turf for the 2011 season opener against Presbyterian at 6 p.m. as the reigning Atlantic Sun champions.
“[Presbyterian] is a hard working team,” said head coach Scott Calabrese. “They are physical and they’re going to give us a very difficult game. I think the keys for us are to play our style of football and to make sure that we possess the ball … and keep our balance. Despite the fact that we have some very good attacking players, we have some players that like to go forward, so we have to make sure we’re not giving away too much at the back.”
The Blue Hose are coming off a 2-13-1 (0-8-0 Big South) season, but are led by an experienced head coach in Bret Boulware. Entering his 12th season as the head of PC’s men’s soccer program, Boulware led his 2010 team to achievements despite the undermining record. Presbyterian’s defeat of Furman last year marked the first time the Blue Hose defeated the Paladins since 1983, and PC also carried a representative of the Big South All-Freshmen Team.
Saturday’s contest will mark the first time PC and ETSU have met during regular season play.
Coming off a 2010 campaign laden with first-time achievements, Calabrese looks to refocus his team for a difficult 2011 season that will see the Bucs encounter three NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago and three squads currently ranked in either the Soccer America or NSCAA top 25 preseason polls.
In what was a record breaking 15-win 2010 season for ETSU, not only did the Bucs capture their first conference championship in program history, but current sophomore Itode Fubara (Ogbema, Nigeria) was the first Buccaneer to be named A-Sun Tournament MVP and A-Sun Freshman of the Year. Fubara also joined Aaron Schoenfeld (Knoxville, Tenn.) and former teammate Guilherme Reis (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) as three of the 13 honorees of the A-Sun First Team All-Conference. Calabrese was also recognized, being named Coach of the Year from both the Atlantic Sun Conference and the NSCAA/Mondo South Region – the first time in program history each of those awards were earned.
ETSU enters 2011 returning 19 letterwinners and nine starters, with a fairly balanced roster of six seniors, seven juniors, seven sophomores, and 10 freshmen to defend the A-Sun crown. Averaging 1.43 goals per game in 2010, the Bucs return a remarkable 87 percent of their goal scoring (26 of 30 goals) including their leader in goals, points, shots and shots on goal in Schoenfeld. This year’s senior captain netted seven goals in 2010 including the game-winners against Marshall and UNC-Asheville. Joined by his fellow seniors James Holt (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Blake Pelton (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Colin Pugh (Dublin, Ireland), Matt Reed (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Jaron Westbrook (Round Rock, Texas), Schoenfeld’s goal scoring ability will be a pivotal role in the success ETSU can muster through 2011.
“We’re returning a number of kids that have been here for four years and leading that list is Aaron Schoenfeld who is our senior captain,” said Calabrese. “He’s really developed as a player from year one when he came in. Last year he really had a breakthrough year and started scoring goals on a more consistent basis. It’s never been a question of his work rate or determination to get in front of goal, get involved or do the dirty work. He’s a guy that’s not afraid to get into tackles and we’ve got big aspirations as a team and Aaron is going to be a big part of that.”
The Bucs boast quite the offensive threat on the attack with players other than Schoenfeld. Redshirt junior David Haba (Germantown, Tenn.) has been highly touted by Calabrese as a player who has improved significantly from a year ago, and who will be relied upon if the Bucs want to make it back-to-back conference championships. Some new talent that has come to Johnson City will not be taking a back seat in 2011, and freshman Frank Doumbe (Silver Spring, Md.) will be at the head of the newcomers who will look to make an immediate impact.
“Last year we proved that we could score goals and create quite a few chances. This year we’ve improved upon that even more so. David Haba, now going in as a redshirt junior, really worked hard last year to improve. He’s a handful [for opponents] going forward, really creates chances and his movement is very intelligent. Frank Doumbe is going to be joining the team this year. He’s got pace, he can take players out wide, he’s technical and he can come inside.”
At the midfield, a pair of sophomore standouts look to pick up right where they left off from their explosive freshmen seasons. David Geno (Kingsport, Tenn.) returns as the team-leader in assists from last year, racking up five in 2010, and will be looking to manufacture more chances for the talented Buccaneer forwards. Fubara, with his abovementioned accolades from a year ago, was one of the integral parts of ETSU’s record-breaking championship season, and will be called upon to be just as vital in 2011. He scored four goals and tallied three assists in 2010 including, as no Buccaneer soccer fan could forget, the game-winning goal in the A-Sun Tournament finals to send the Bucs to their first NCAA Tournament in program history.
“Itode Fubara and Alesi Osorio (Austin, Texas) can get the ball down and control the tempo of the game,” said Calabrese. “On top of that, we’ve got Theo Yang (Lilburn, Ga.) and David Geno who are both very clever and sharp players around the goal. I think if we start hitting on all cylinders, especially going forward, we can be an exciting team.”
The Buccaneers back line was also very impressive last year, ranking 49th in the country in team goals against average (0.96), and will be headed by the senior Westbrook. A member of the team since its inaugural 2008 season, Westbrook will lead a defense which held its opponents goalless throughout the entire 2010 A-Sun Tournament, as ETSU won each of those games, 1-0. Sophomores Blaike Woodruff (Georgetown, Texas) and Nate Hodges (Baileytown, Miss.) also return from the stellar defense ETSU possessed in 2010, and will be a difficult force for opponents to break through with their experience and relentless ball pressure they impose.
“At the back we now have Blaike Woodruff who played as a right back last year,” said Calabrese. “Going forward he’s very good but also really tenacious; he’s not afraid to get into a tackle. On the other side [we’ve got] Nate Hodges [who is] very good passer with the ball, good left foot, not afraid to get into a tackle and is very good in the air. In the middle so far it’s been Ronnie Westbrook who is a tremendous athlete, very good in the air and has great pace in the back. He’s been coupled so far with Simon Schroettle (Rain, Germany). Simon’s a freshman this year from Germany and is a very good passer with the ball out of the back. That’s something that we haven’t had up to this point so he’s really been able to help us play balls forward into the midfield and brings that new dimension. We’re excited about the back force … it’s starting to come together.”
With the start of the 2011 season on the horizon, Calabrese and his assistant coaches Ian Luya and David Lilly have their team prepared for the quest towards another Atlantic Sun championship.
For more information on ETSU men’s soccer please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s soccer links.