The UNC Asheville men's soccer team had its first practice this morning as the Bulldogs prepare for the 2013 season. Below is a preview of the upcoming season.
The UNC Asheville men’s soccer team hopes to build on a good spring en route to a successful season in 2013.
A young Bulldog team struggled in 2012 and finished with a 1-15-1 overall record. Fourth-year coach Matt Kern is determined to improve on that mark in 2013, and he believes this team can make major strides.
“We were very young last season and it showed throughout the year,” admitted Kern. “I thought we played some good soccer against a tough schedule both in non-conference play and in the Big South. We lost seven one-goal matches that if we could have had a few of those go our way may have changed the way the season progressed.”
Kern believes a strong spring campaign by the Bulldogs is going to carry over to this fall.
“We had a terrific spring both on and off the field,” explained Kern. “Our guys did a great job developing, and our morale was much better. We went 5-2 in the spring with some good wins over some solid programs. We’re confident that’s going to carry over to this year.”
The Bulldogs should be in good shape in goal this season with Dan Jackson and Zak Davis returning.
Jackson was Asheville’s stating goalkeeper in 2012. He played in 15 matches and earned the start 14 times. The sophomore made 87 saves and kept Asheville in a lot of matches.
“Dan is a very good shot-blocker and did a solid job last year,” declared Kern. “He works hard and should be even better this season.”
Davis, a sophomore who transferred from Colgate, earned some playing time in 2012. He played in three matches and had one start. Davis played the second half and overtime in the Bulldogs’ final match of the season when they tied Liberty 0-0 on the road.
“Zak had a super spring,” stated Kern. “He’s very athletic and grew technically with his feet in the spring season.
“We’ll be using both Dan and Zak this year and believe that both will be capable of getting the job done when called upon,” Kern added.
The Bulldogs have experience and depth returning in the back in 2013.
Sophomore Andrew Sotak played primarily in midfield in 2012 but has been moved to right back.
“Andrew had an excellent freshman year,” admitted Kern. “We had to use him at midfield last season but we moved him to right back in the spring, and we believe he’ll be very effective there this year.”
Returning from an injury this season is red-shirt sophomore tri-captain A.J. Iiames. He was a starter for the Bulldogs in the back in 2011, and he’ll be Asheville’s starter at left back this year.
“We really missed A.J. last year and are glad to have him back,” declared Kern. “He’s a dynamic attacking player who had a terrific spring.”
Junior Paul Egle is slated to start for the Dogs in the center back spot.
“Paul is one of the top passers in the Big South and one of the best I’ve ever coached,” stated Kern. “He’ll do a great job for us here this season.”
Sophomore Cole Schwietering started last season as a central defender and played quite well.
“We were really pleased with Cole’s play last year,” said Kern. “He came in as a freshman and performed right from the start. With his height (6-3), Cole’s very tough to stop in the air.”
Asheville’s depth in the back is all freshmen. Kern and his staff have brought a talented recruiting class into the program, especially defenders.
Backing up Sotak will be Brian Wendelgass from Cary, N.C.
“Brian should push for playing time. He comes from a great academy team and has some experience,” stated Kern. “I think we’ll see him playing significant minutes as a freshman.”
Local product Cy Gourlay comes from nearby Carolina Day in Asheville. He could play as either a center or right back.
“We’re happy to have Cy in the program,” admitted Kern. “He’s a composed and reliable player who has versatility that we like.”
Jack Huber, a 6-4 rookie from Wake Forest, N.C., can play either as a defender or in midfield.
“Jack is a passionate and competitive player who has size that will help us when he’s on the field,” pointed out Kern. “We’re looking at him as a central midfielder.”
Freshman Devin Francis is from New Orleans and enjoyed an excellent prep and club career. He could be backing up Iiames.
“The thing we like about Devin is that he’s a very good one-on-one defender,” explained Kern. “He has some international experience with a good work rate.”
Asheville has some real experience coming back in the midfield in 2013.
Start with senior tri-captain Rob May. The Asheville native transferred to Asheville from Charlotte last year but was never really healthy. He played in 13 matches, earned 11 starts and scored a goal.
“Rob fought through injuries last year but is healthy and ready to go,” commented Kern. “He’s one of our main cogs. Rob gives us toughness and leadership. He had a terrific spring, and we believe that he and Mick Giordano will work well together.”
Giordano is a fifth-year senior who also transferred to Asheville last year as he played in 10 matches with six starts.
“We look for Mick to be a central midfielder. He’s another player who had a great spring,” said Kern. “He’s really maturing as a player, and we like what he and Rob (May) could do for us this year.”
Sophomore Stabler Cochrane is slated to be Asheville’s starter at the attacking midfielder spot. Cochrane scored a goal and added an assist in 15 matches played in 2012.
“Stabler has really gotten stronger and shown great one-on-one ability,” explained Kern. “He has an attacker mentality and will be a real plus going forward this year.”
Junior Joey Cutting will compete for playing time as a central midfielder.
“Joey is a tremendous leader and hard worker,” said Kern. “He’ll give us some depth as a central midfielder.”
Senior Hans Lohmeyer scored a goal last year and hopes to have more in 2013.
“We’re pleased that Hans made a real commitment in the weight room this past off-season and has gotten much stronger,” said Kern. “He’s good in the air and is a tough defender.”
Junior Patrick Phillip scored his two goals in the first match of the year in 2012 against Brevard.
“Patrick provided some high-quality minutes off the bench last season with his athletic ability,” stated Kern. “He has the ability to score some goals.”
Up front, the Bulldogs have an interesting mixture of experience and youth.
Senior tri-captain Bobby Castro, who made a name for himself in the classroom last year by being named an Academic All-Region performer, will move from the back to up front in 2013.
“People are really going to enjoy watching Bobby play up front,” declared Kern. “He’s a versatile player who can play anywhere on the field. Bobby is a real leader for our program.”
Senior Kenneth Lingerfelt tallied two goals last season and had five points. The Bulldogs wouldn’t mind seeing even more this year.
“We look for a breakthrough year for Kenny in scoring,” said Kern. “He’s tough to defend and is extremely dangerous when facing a defender. I believe Kenny could have a big year both scoring goals and handing out assists.”
Sophomore Emil Gonzalves played as a central midfielder as a freshman but will be moved up front this year. He scored a goal in 14 matches played with 11 starts in 2012.
“Emil works hard and will be an integral part of our attacking philosophy this season,” stated Kern. “He’s dynamic on the ball and just makes things happen.”
Junior Quentin Reynolds earned an assist last season in 15 games played.
“Quentin is a real threat when he gets behind the defense,” commented Kern. “He’ll provide valuable depth up front.”
Freshman Grady Bradshaw is one of two rookies on this year’s club from nearby Carolina Day in Asheville. Kern is excited to have him on the roster.
“I believe Grady is going to surprise a lot of people in the Big South this year,” admitted Kern. “He’s very competitive and hard-working. Grady has the skills to make an impact right away.”
Texas native Tevin Beckwith is a freshman from Little Elm who just needs experience.
“What’s great about Tevin is how fast he is. He’s an extremely hard worker and not afraid to play defense,” stated Kern. “He just needs to get some experience in the college game.”
“We want to focus on our non-conference record at first and try to get to a .500 record and then do the same in the Big South. Our league is very good. It sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament and both won their matches in the tourney. We’ll need to be ready to play every time we go out on the field.
“We’ve got goals that we’re going to review each week and just try and get better each and every day in practice and with each match. As I said earlier, I was really pleased with the spring season we had and looking for that to carry over into the fall. We have a nice mix of all of our classes and have some great leadership. We’re excited and can’t wait to get started.”