Season Preview: Offensive fire power hopes to propel GU men's soccer up the conference standings
WASHINGTON, D.C. – There was a lot to celebrate last season for the Gallaudet University men’s soccer program as the Bison showed vast improvement throughout the season and won back-to-back games for the first time in 14 years. Granted the team went 2-14 overall but the two wins were as many as the Bison earned from 2006-10 combined.
Gallaudet won its first conference game at home, a 2-1 Homecoming victory over Penn St.-Berks last season, for the first time since 1997 and celebrated a home win for the first time since 2005.
The Bison look to carryover their strong finish to the 2011 campaign into the new season.
“We are looking forward to this new season. We want to confirm last year's improvements with more wins and better stats in all facets of our game. We want to be competitive in NEAC and keep making the playoffs as our ultimate challenge,” said Gallaudet coach Luis Gendive, now in his fifth year with the program and third in a row.
Gallaudet’s top two scorers from last season are back in senior Jean-Pierre Kanashiro (Springfield, Va.) and sophomore Karlis Intsons (Riga, Latvia). Kanashiro was an All-North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) first team selection last season as he appeared in all 16 games with 13 starts. He led the team in goals with eight goals, shots (61) by a wide margin and was two-for-three as he took the team's only penalty kick attempts. Intsons was second on the team with 10 points, four goals and two assists, tops on the team.
“Our offense is our strength this year, as shown in our first scrimmage this fall. It's not just JP or Karlis who proved themselves last season. Expectations are also high with the second line,” said Gendive.
Senior co-captain James Rummo (Butler, N.J.) is a veteran player that played in every game last season wit 15 starts. Fellow senior Wilson Velez (Marlborough, Mass.) and junior Abdul Al-Makura (Abuka, Nigeria) add depth to this unit.
Senior co-captain Richard Spiecker (Rochester, N.Y.) is back for his last season with the Bison and will line-up at midfield along sophomore Gabriel Carino (Bronx, N.Y.) and freshman Said Lakrik (Washington, D.C.).
The unit also consists of senior Clayton McMillan (Frederick, Md.) and freshmen Nick Mansel (Lawton, Okla.), Patrick McMullen (Royal Oak, Mich.), Joshua Withrow (Frederick, Md.) and Andrew Velez (Marlborough, Mass.).
“Our midfield line has a good number of players, some of them with experience but some others with little to none,” said Gendive. “Once again, if we are healthy, our rotation should be good because we have a good mix of experience and young players with desire.”
The Bison defense is a work in progress as the Bison try and replace five of six defenders from last season. Senior Jeremy Wagoner (Pittsburgh, Pa.) is a returner on defense and junior Felix Ramirez (Anaheim, Calif.) has moved back from midfield but possess experience with the Bison. The pair will try to teach and guide freshmen Zachary Seguin (Royal Oak, Mich.), Ramon Estade (Boston, Mass.), Gaelen Swartz (Orilla, Ontario) and Gabriel Calza-Everett (Montpelier, Vt.).
“Our defense is a big question mark. We lost five defenders from last year,” said Gendive. “We are rebuilding and trying different formations and assignments. Hopefully, we can find the right combination and quickly."
Sophomore goalie Eric Setzer (Middletown, Md.), a co-captain, kept the Bison in a lot of games last season due to his play in net. Setzer started in played in 12 games and made 80 saves (69 percent save percentage) and allowed 3.30 goals per game. He was in net for both of Gallaudet’s wins. He was third in the conference with a 6.67 saves per game average and sixth with 80 total saves.
“Our expectations are high with Eric this season after a great first year and being named captain recently, he should be the leader of our back line,” said Gendive. “Two key points that Eric needs to work on this year is to minimize his mistakes and pay full attention to defending set plays.”
Ramirez begins the season as Setzer’s backup.
The Bison begin the season with a five-game homestand with four straight non-conference games before a big showdown with Penn St.-Harrisburg on Sept. 15 in the conference opener. A pivotal homestand will take place on Sept. 22-23 when the Bison welcome Wells and Keuka to campus. GU closes out the month on the road in New York against SUNY Cobleskill and SUNYIT on Sept. 29-30.
Gallaudet will begin the month of October on a break before hosting Morrisville St. and Cazenovia for two conference games on Oct. 13-14. The Bison will hit the road for three straight conference games in the state of Pennsylvania before closing out the regular-season at home on Oct. 26 against Salem International for Homecoming.
The Bison hope to improve in the conference standings in 2012 as Gendive describes the task as difficult to predict on where GU fits among its conference peers.
“There are a number of teams that are very similar. If we are healthy, our goals will be to win more games than ever before. Second, to compete for a seed in the NEAC tournament,” said Gendive. “It's going to be a difficult task but if we can win one or both games of the September 22-23 weekend, at home, we would be heading in the right direction.”