Fall Sports Preview: Men's Soccer

Goptrels.com continues its look at the upcoming fall sports teams, this time previewing the year ahead for men's soccer.

2011 Men's Soccer Preview

Set to celebrate 50 years of soccer being played on the Oglethorpe campus, the men's soccer team will begin the 2011 season with a chip on its shoulder after a difficult 2010 campaign that saw the Petrels stumble from a 4-0-1 start to an 8-9-1 overall record. The season-ending record, however, can be misleading as seven of Oglethorpe's nine defeats were by a scant goal and five of those losses were by the final score of 1-0. Head coach Jon Akin begins his ninth season knowing the Petrels are on the brink of breaking out and, with seven starters returning and several hotshot recruits joining them, optimism abounds heading into the 2011 season.

Oglethorpe returns five of the top seven point scorers from last year's squad led by team leader Mark Lavery (10 points). Lavery, a transfer from Kentucky, earned Second Team All-SCAC honors in his first season on the pitch for Oglethorpe and looks to build on that success in his final year of eligibility. Re-joining Lavery will be the team's leading goal scorer from 2010, Nick Williamson (4 goals) and the team's biggest shot-maker Ben Robertson (51 shots). Standouts Jeff Arsenault (7 points) and Aaron Walker (5 points) also return to the pitch to provide scoring opportunities.

In addition to the point leaders, Oglethorpe brings back the steady services of several accomplished players including senior defender Harrison McConnell, senior midfielder Nathan Post, senior goalkeeper Jon Beaver, junior defender Taylor Spear and sophomore midfielder Ellis Curry. These core returnees provide the foundation for the team's success in 2011 and coach Akin will continue to lean on his veterans for leadership.

The veteran core of the squad has been supplemented by an outstanding recruiting class that will greatly enhance the team's fortunes in 2011. Highlighting the newcomers are two Division I transfers, sophomore defender Nikos Papanikolopoulos (Clemson University) and sophomore midfielder Sean King (Presbyterian College). Joining the Division I transfers is a skilled group of freshmen that includes forward Stephen Householder, forward Jakub Madej,  forward Carlos Gaston, forward Danny Panton, forward Austin Fiddler, midfielder Danny Ramirez, defender Joe Buschini, defender Phillip Rawson and midfielder Diego Herrerra.

New on the schedule this year will be the opportunity to qualify for the SCAC Tournament to be held in Birmingham from November 4-6. Recently added by the coaches of the SCAC, the year-end tournament will include the top six teams in the league with the top two receiving byes and the tournament winner automatically qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. In addition to the year-end tourney, the 2011 schedule is highlighted by neutral site dates against non-conference opponents Guilford, Berry, Rowan and Methodist. The SCAC home slate gets underway the weekend of September 30 with matches against Austin and Dallas. The team will celebrate 50 years of soccer on October 22 versus Birmingham-Southern and close out the schedule with a conference weekend October 28 versus Centre and Sewanee. To view the entire 2011 schedule, go here.

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