BARBOURVILLE, Ky. --
The Union College men's soccer team kicks off their 2011 season this weekend, and is looking to contend in the Appalachian Athletic Conference using a mixture of experience and youth to achieve their ultimate goal of winning a conference title.
"We will definitely have a new look this season as we lose nine players, five of which were four-year starters," said head coach Tyler Brock
, who enters his ninth season at the helm of the program. "Overall, we will have some inexperience in some positions, and it may take a little while to sort some things out. But, overall, we are a very talented group."Returnees
In the midfield, Union returns two of the teams leading scorers from a season ago, and the two student-athletes that the team will rely on for leadership, as they've been both named team captains for the season.
The first is 2010 All-AAC First Team selection Chris Elliott
(Isle of Wight, England), who finished last season with a team high 19 points (seven goals, five assists).. Elliott will be joined by senior Chris Riley
(Cornwall, England), who posted 13 points (three goals, seven assists) last season to earn All-AAC second team honors.
Senior Kevin Niehaus
(Independence, Ky.) will also see playing time on the year in the middle after seeing action in 16 matches last season, as will junior Steve Young
(Clarksville, Tenn.), who has been impressive in the squad's preseason practices.
At forward, a position Brock considers vital to the team's chances on the year, the Bulldogs will be led by sophomore Jamie Cozens
(Southampton, England), who was the team's second leading scorer in his rookie campaign last season, registering 16 points (seven goals, two assists).
Fellow sophomore Christian Jauregui
(Mount Sterling, Ky.) will join Cozens to lead the group, while junior Dominic Sheele
(Clarksville, Tenn.), and seniors Marc Miller
(Winchester, Ky), a transfer from Cumberlands, and Andy Blevins
(Burlington, Ky.), will also contribute to the Bulldog offensive attack.
On defense, Kyle Hathorn
(Burlington, Ky.) is the lone senior on the unit, and with Elliott and Riley is a team captain for the 2011 campaign. He will be joined by junior Jake White
(Port Orange, Fla.), and sophomores Damian Hobson
(Dayton, Ohio), and Josh Niemann
(Louisville, Ky.), who started in 12 matches last season for the Bulldogs.Newcomers
Union adds 10 freshman to the roster for the 2011 season, and one of these 10 freshman will see significant time at possibly the most important position on the pitch - goalkeeper.
In between the pipes, UC looks to replace the departed Jonathan Shaw
, who was the team's starting keeper for the last three years. Three rookies have vied for the job in preseason practice: Andrew Metcalf
(Chester, England), AJ Dunaway
(Richmond, Ky.), and Madison Justice
(Morehead, Ky.). Going into the year, Metcalf will start in net, with Justice as his back-up. Dunaway will sit out the early part of the season nursing an injury.
Other freshman who Brock will look to log major minutes during the season include Thales Galan
(Santa Andzie, Brazil), Jonathan Watson
(Kirriemuir, Scotland), and Juan Badillo
(Cali, Columbia) in the midfield, Travis Cole
(Beckley, W.Va.), Dustin Mills
(Dry Ridge, Ky.), and Cody Johnson
(London, Ky.) at forward, and Hugo Sanchez
(Dallas, Texas) - a transfer from Texas A&M - and Michael Moore
(Morehead, Ky.) on the defensive end. Schedule
UC will open their season this weekend when they host the 2011 Golden Corral Bulldog Classic at Burch/Nau Field. first taking on Emmanuel (Ga.) on Friday at 12 noon, then Cumberland (Tenn.) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs continue their four-match opening season home stand with contests against Indiana Tech on Sept 3, and rival Cumberlands (Ky.) on Sept. 6. Union will then travel to the Georgetown Classic Tournament to take on Notre Dame College, who was the NAIA National runner's up last season, and Mid-Continent on Sept. 9-10, followed up by a road trip to Cincinnati Christian on Sept. 14.
Union then returns home on Sept. 17th to host their 2011 AAC opener against Reinhardt, followed up by a home tilt with Georgetown on Sept. 21. The Bulldogs then hit the road for four straight matches (three of which are AAC match-ups), and end their home slate with a three match home stand. The team's home season finale will be on Oct. 18 against Tennessee Wesleyan, while the regular season finale commences on Oct. 25 at Virginia Intermont.
The 2011 AAC Tournament begins on Nov. 5 with quarterfinal matches held on campus sites.Overall
Overall, the Bulldogs enter the season with some question marks, but Brock is confident that by the end of the year, his squad will be one of the strongest in the AAC, thanks in part to an experienced coaching staff.
"My coaching staff is awesome," said Brock. "We brought in Paulo Neto
from the University of the Cumberlands, and having Jon Shaw here to tutor the young goalkeepers has been a huge help. Along with Steven Loverso
, who was with us last year, I know our young guys will be able to pick things up much faster.
"Preseason has gone very well for us," continued Brock. "The atmosphere has been good, and the guys came in very fit. They're all ready to prove themselves out there, and are ready to get into matches to figure out things. We're still a little scattered out, but we'll figure this out one puzzle piece at a time."