BOONE, N.C. (Aug. 23, 2012) – With 16 days of preseason training and two exhibition games behind it, the ETSU men’s soccer team is set to kickoff the 2012 season as the Buccaneers will travel to Appalachian Soccer Stadium in Boone, N.C. on Friday to take on Appalachian State at 7 p.m.
ETSU will be under the direction of fifth-year head coach Scott Calabrese, who will lead a 28-man squad comprised of seven freshmen, four sophomores, nine juniors and seven seniors. The Buccaneers went 10-7-4 (3-4-1 A-Sun) last year, with their season coming to an end via an 89th-minute goal by Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun Championship final. The Bucs have gone 1-1-0 through the 2012 preseason, ending it with a, 2-0, victory over the College of Charleston last Saturday.
Appalachian State comes off a 10-5-4 (3-2-2 SoCon) season, which ended with a, 2-1, overtime loss to top-seeded UNC Greensboro in the semifinals. Matt Nelson leads the Mountaineers in his second season, boasting a 22-man squad of six freshmen, seven sophomores, three juniors and six seniors.
This year’s Mountaineer squad returns five starters, including goalkeeper Danny Free who went 7-3-4 in 2011 with a cumulative GAA of 0.66. Appalachian State’s top returning goal scorers are Ryan Lavigne and Harrison Delbridge, who netted three goals and tallied one point apiece last year.
Friday’s season opener will be the fourth all-time meeting between ETSU and Appalachian State, with the Mountaineers leading the series 2-1-0. The road team has come out victorious in all three of those contests, with ETSU having taken down the Mountaineers, 1-0, in overtime the last time they met in Boone on Nov. 2, 2010. Last year, Appalachian State defeated ETSU in the Bucs’ regular season finale, 1-0, with a goal in double overtime.
Live stats for Friday’s game will be available courtesy of GoASU.com.
2012 ETSU Season Outlook
After barely missing out on what would have been a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the ETSU men’s soccer team heads into 2012 looking to reclaim the Atlantic Sun Championship trophy and, among other goals, finish strong in conference play after being unable to do so in 2011.
ETSU tasted the national spotlight in the early parts of the 2011 season, entering both the NSCAA and Soccer America rankings for the first time in program history. Courtesy of Alesi Osorio’s (Austin, Texas) last-minute goal against then-No. 24/20 UNC Greensboro, ETSU earned its first win over a top-25 opponent and subsequently found itself ranked for the first time, No. 19, by Soccer America the week of Sept. 6. After defeating then-No. 14 William and Mary, and playing to a scoreless tie against Furman, the Buccaneers entered the NSCAA rankings for the first time at No. 24 the week of Sept. 27.
After posting a 3-4-1 mark in A-Sun play, the Buccaneers entered the A-Sun Tournament as the No. 6 seed, defeating No. 3 Jacksonville and getting past No. 2 Stetson to advance to the final against No. 1 FGCU. The Eagles scored in the 89th minute and escaped a last-second attack to claim the title and end ETSU’s 2011 campaign.
This year, ETSU will look to finish what it started in 2011 and earn a bid to its second NCAA Tournament against one of the toughest schedules Calabrese has ever put together. That schedule includes a rematch with UNC Greensboro, and games against UAB, Davidson, Kentucky, Furman and perennial national powerhouse Wake Forest.
“We’ve definitely challenged ourselves at the beginning of the season,” Calabrese said. “We’ve made sure to schedule some teams that will test us and let us know where we are as a team and as a program. The non-conference season will get us where we need to be, so during the conference season we’ll be at a level where we can truly compete to be the top team in the conference. One of our major goals is to win the regular season title, because it’s something that we haven’t done before. It will be a major focus for us.”
This year’s version of ETSU men’s soccer includes seven newcomers in Jeremy Saad (Sydney, Australia), Dalton Guzman (Knoxville, Tenn.), Joao Ramalho (Monte Santo, Brazil), Henrique Novaes (Vinhedo, Brazil), Kristoffer Ibsen (Aalborg, Denmark), Maximilian Muemken (Muenster, Germany) and Davis Smith (Clemson, S.C.). Redshirt junior Luis Calzadilla (Caracas, Venezuela) is also eligible this year after sitting out a season ago in his transfer year for Appalachian State. All will by vying for playing time as ETSU looks to fill in some of the gaps it lost after Aaron Schoenfeld (Knoxville, Tenn.) Jaron Westbrook (Round Rock, Texas) and Blake Pelton (Chattanooga, Tenn.) graduated in May.
“This has proved to be one of the deepest classes that we’ve ever put together at ETSU,” Calabrese said. “I feel like the quality of the class is one where we’ll get a number of contributions from these young players. I feel like there are some in this group who will compete for starting positions, and I feel like a number of them will play significant roles within the team.”
Of the returners, the ETSU attack will include David Geno (Kingsport, Tenn.), who set ETSU single-season records last year with nine goals and 21 points. Geno was also selected First Team All-Atlantic Sun in 2011, and was named to the A-Sun’s All-Tournament Team. Redshirt freshman Emmanuel Wilson (Memphis, Tenn.) will also be a threat, and has already showed his abilities to score with a goal in the Bucs’, 2-0, preseason win against the College of Charleston. Senior Theo Yang (Lilburn, Ga.) has a goal to his credit in the preseason as well, and will help guide the group of forwards. Also listed at forward are Ramalho and Novaes, with Calzadilla looking to contribute in his first year since transferring.
“David Geno is always a threat in our attack, but I’m quite pleased with the progress of Theo Yang in the preseason,” Calabrese said. “He has come in ready to play and compete for a position. Emmanuel Wilson made some major strides in both the fall and spring, and is definitely a player that can give us minutes and brings a little something different. I’m very excited to see Luis Calzadilla, as he is a player who can score goals and is quite quick and clever. We have the potential to be very potent and dangerous going forward.”
In the midfield, ETSU returns multiple threats in Itode Fubara (Ogbema, Nigeria), Franck Doumbe (Silver Spring, Md.) David Haba (Germantown, Tenn.), Alesi Osorio (Austin, Texas) and Colin Pugh (Dublin, Ireland). Fubara led the Bucs’ with five assists last year, Doumbe scored four times and tallied two assists, while Osorio netted three goals and two assists. Haba scored twice last year, pulling through for ETSU in the A-Sun quarterfinals with two goals against Jacksonville, while Pugh will be looking forward to getting back on the field after missing the 2011 season with an injury. Another listed returning midfielder is Jonny Campbell, who scored the winning penalty against Stetson in the A-Sun semifinals, as well as sophomore Pedro Zaccarelli (Sao Paulo, Brazil).
“The midfield group that we return is very experienced,” Calabrese said. “Itode Fubara, Alesi Osorio, Colin Pugh, Franck Doumbe and David Haba all give us creativity. They’re very technical players and very good passers of the ball. We also get help from some newcomers as Dalton Guzman and Jeremy Saad both give us something a little different. They’re really holding midfield players rather than the attacking players, and I feel like they will have a big impact on what we’re trying to do.”
On defense, the Bucs return junior preseason all-conference selection Blaike Woodruff (Georgetown, Texas), classmate Nate Hodges (Meridian, Miss.) and 2011 A-Sun All-Freshman Team selection Simon Schroettle (Rain, Germany). All three played vital roles on the Bucs’ back line in 2011, and will be accompanied by returners Nick Dykes (Nashville, Tenn.), Adam Thomas (Morristown, Tenn.), Alex Hoyl (Dallas, Texas) and redshirt senior Matt Reed (Murfressboro, Tenn.), who ETSU missed last year after Reed sat out with an injury. Newcomers Guzman and Saad will also help in giving an attack orientated group some defensive balance.
“We return three of the four defenders, so they’re a very experienced group,” Calabrese said. “They’ve improved quite a bit in their time at ETSU. Blaike Woodruff, Nate Hodges and Simon Schroettle were all at the back last season. Nick Dykes and Matt Reed have both competed for the other center back position, and look quite good. We also have two internationals joining the team as well. Max Muemken is a very experienced central defender from Germany and Kristoffer Ibsen has a great background and is another player who has the opportunity to potentially help us. I feel very comfortable with our backs.”
In goal, Ryan Coulter (Dublin Ireland) will be looking to be a crucial part of ETSU’s success after playing and starting in all 21 games last year and being selected to the A-Sun All-Tournament Team. He will be challenged for playing time by fellow returner Ronnie Hreha (Asheville, N.C.), who started both exhibition games and was the starting goalkeeper throughout most of the 2010 championship season, along with newcomer Smith.
“We bring back two very experienced goalkeepers," Calabrese added. "Ryan Coulter had a very good first year at ETSU, playing in some big games and helping us to our success last season, and Ronnie Hreha played a big part in our success two years ago when we won the conference. Those two are looking good in training and I’m excited to see them compete for the position.”
With a core group of returners and talented newcomers on the 2012 squad, ETSU will hope to finish what it started in 2011 and establish itself as a national force in college soccer.
For more information on ETSU men’s soccer, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s soccer links.