Upon first look, the Coast Guard men's soccer team enters the 2012 season with a roster that many would consider young, there are only three seniors on the roster. However, the Bears return 20 players who were on the roster in 2011 including seven starters from a team that went 6-9-1 overall and just 1-4-1 in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), thus finishing sixth and not qualifying for the NEWMAC tournament for the first time.
"We have a strong desire to get back to the NEWMAC tournament and just as importantly get back above .500," said head coach Chris Parsons in his 11th season. "In order to accomplish this, we will have to improve our defending, get consistent goalkeeping, and find a way to replace the ten goals scored by Brett Godiksen,"
The Bears will be led on defense by senior co-captain Greg Kennerley (4 goals), who was a captain and second team all NEWMAC performer last season. "Greg's leadership, heart and desire is critical to our success this year," said Parsons.
Junior Kyle Grell will start at the back for the second straight season. Sophomore John Tarzian will likely start next to Kennerley at the other centerback spot. Junior Andrew Jaeger and sophomores John Ray and Ethan Beard will see time at the other wing back positions.
In goal, the Bears return all three goalkeepers who saw playing time in 2011. Competition will be stiff between senior Will Leffler, junior Carlos Gonzalez, and sophomore Richie Burns. The experience gained by all three last year should improve the Bears goals against in 2012. "We need one of these three to step up and make big saves at crucial times," said Parsons. "All three put in lots of hard work in the off season"
In the midfield, the Bears return a host of quality players. Junior co-captain Jake Rendon (1 goals, 3 assists) will start in the attacking center midfield spot, while junior Andrew Heaney and sophomores Matt Bogdan and Trey Chamberlain will see time at the holding center midfield role. This is another position where experienced gained last year should improve performance in 2012.
There are a number of talented attacking players that will have to step up and score goals in 2012. Three juniors, who all started last season, Matt Epperly (3 goals), Joe Bodzewski (3 assists) and Robert Copeland (2 goals, 1 assist) will be tasked with carrying the load. Sophomore Tradd Lovern has looked strong in preseason as well. "We have spent a great deal of time changing the mentality of our frontrunners. They have worked hard to develop the mindset of a goal scorer," said Parsons.
Seven freshmen have joined the squad. "It is always exciting to see which fourth class can come out of the challenges of swab summer and impact the team," added Parsons.
"This is the third year the core of this team has been together and know each other well, have excellent chemistry and a strong desire to compete," said Parsons. "We have taken to embracing the motto presented by Admiral Stosz during convocation this year, e pluribus unim, out of many, one. We are very excited for the season to get underway."