Manchester men's soccer season preview
Preparation is the buzz word circling around the 2012 Manchester University men’s soccer squad.
Coach Dave Good, embarking on his 33rd year at the helm of the Spartans, has reason to see this fall with some optimism. He has 39 young men entering preseason camp led by a group of six seniors that has seen significant playing time.
“If the guys come in prepared to do well, I think we will do well ... plain and simple,” Good said. “We’ve always set a goal of making the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, but this team should be aiming higher and would like to take a shot at the top spot.
“We’ll need to be ready to go each time out (if we want to reach that expectation),” he added. “In my mind, most of the teams in the conference are contenders. On any given day, anybody can beat anybody. We were two overtime losses and a one-goal loss to Transylvania from finishing second instead of fifth a year ago. There isn’t much room for error, so, yes, preparation will be very important.”
MU’s senior class has the likes of third-year captain Carson McFadden (Elgin, Ill.) and fellow three-year starters Cody Freels (Auburn, Ind.), Dian Radev (Burgas, Bulgaria), Matt Servizzi (Loveland, Ohio), Grant Noakes (LaPorte, Ind.) and Andrew Gray (Anderson, Ind.). Freels, Gray and McFadden serve multi-purpose roles for the Spartans, while Radev enters 2012 as one of the program’s top scorers after earning all-HCAC honors for a five-goal, four-assist, 14-point outing in 2011. Servizzi, a second team all-HCAC selection last year, anchors the defense in front of Noakes, a second team all-HCAC selection two years ago, who returns at goalkeeper. Freels was also a second team all-HCAC honoree in 2011.
“Freels, Gray, McFadden and Servizzi have each played a role in helping our defense be very strong in recent years,” Good said. “We may look to move some of them around, especially Gray who could be a ‘go to’ goal guy in my opinion. We will go as far as this senior group decides to take us.”
Beyond that, the Spartans’ skipper likes the potential of sophomore transfer Ellis Whitt who was at Albion College in Michigan last year along with fellow sophomores Austin Finley (Kokomo, Ind.) and Josh Collier (Anderson, Ind.). He also pointed at senior forward Lucas Shelly (Goshen, Ind.) and sophomore defender/midfielder Chase Lockwood (Auburn, Ind.), both coming off injuries last year, who can add depth to the squad.
“Ellis could be in either a midfield or forward slot, while Austin can give us more production up top,” Good said. “Collier can be either a defender or midfielder for us. I’m also looking for solid contributions from senior Nicolas Balmoria (Ft. Wayne, Ind.), juniors Connor Seavers (Auburn, Ind.) and Nick Hitchings (Rensselear, Ind.),and sophomore Matt Gray (Anderson, Ind.).
“We also have a good number of freshmen coming into camp, but it may take them some time to get themselves used to the college game,” he added. “It’ll be good to see them in action and how they work with the team during the preseason.”
Good hopes the defense can remain solid in 2012.
“With so many experienced guys back in the middle, hopefully we can be more productive in the attack,” he said. “The biggest issue last year was not being able to finish numerous well produced opportunities. We haven’t scored more than 30 goals since 2007 while not giving up many more than that in each of those seasons. (Offense) will be an emphasis during our preseason camp work.”
With a preconference schedule that includes traditional NCAA Division III national power Ohio Northern as well as St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standouts Fontbonne and Webster, Manchester University will need the whole team to shine.
“I like to play that type of schedule to give us a measuring stick,” Good said. “It gives us a chance to see where we are at going into the conference portion. We will need those types of matches, too, with Rose-Hulman, Transylvania and the rest of the league looking pretty strong. We’re going into the first season as Manchester University looking for good things to happen out on the soccer field.”