Tigerville, SC – Looking to rebound from a first round loss in the 2011 Conference Carolinas Tournament, the North Greenville men’s soccer team returns six starters to a squad which finished 8-8 overall and 6-5 in conference play last season. Head coach Chad Gfeller and the Crusaders will look to tackle a tough 14-game schedule which includes 10 conference games and non-conference matchups with Lander University and Newberry College.
“We would definitely like to have a strong finish and place in the top five in our conference,” said Gfeller of his expectations for 2012. “Doing so would put us in position to compete for a conference championship which is what we are shooting for.”
The Crusaders return starting goalkeeper Justen Braddock who has been a starter since his freshman season. Braddock has seen action in 39 career games, including 14 games last season with 13 starts. In 2011, the senior recorded 84 total saves, while compiling a 77.8 save percentage and a 1.79 goals against average.
Junior Caleb Mitchell, who has played on the JV team for the past two seasons, returns for his junior season, while freshmen Andrew Duncan and Pablo Dongarra are sure to provide depth in goal.
Junior center back Ian Murray returns to anchor a defense that allowed 1.81 goals per game in their first season in Conference Carolinas competition. Murray will be called upon to be the leader of the defense while juniors Todd Johnston and Wil Pickel also provide experience along the back line with 22 starts between the two in 2011.
Senior Bryan Worley and junior Cameron Porter also provide depth and experience to the defense, while a host of incoming freshmen provide Gfeller with more depth. Shomari Bridgewater will be counted on to be an immediate contributor, while Jon Coelho, Nathan Wilkie and Asa Wolfe will be counted on to provide a spark for the Crusader defense.
The team’s leading goal scorer from 2011 returns in the form of junior forward Alex Redding who scored six goals while playing in all 16 games just a season ago. Senior David Frazao also returns after starting 15 of the team’s 16 games and will be asked to control the pace of the game and provide consistency from the center of the midfield.
The Crusaders lost a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball, but Gfeller has brought in six offensive players to offset the loss. Junior transfer Jonathan Lagos and freshman Doug Cordi provide the offense with experience and skill, while freshmen Brandon Harrison, Brandon Prevett, Thales Wieczorek and Ara Zadoorian provide Gfeller with a multitude of depth at every position.
“We have a good backbone with experienced players returning,” said Gfeller. “This experience coupled with some very strong incoming recruits gives us the opportunity to compete well.”
“Unity has got to be a priority. We will have a lot of different players on the field so developing the same mindset and goals will be key to our success as a team.”
Look for the 2012 version of the Crusaders to be a strong, experienced team looking to make a name for themselves in their sophomore season as a member of Conference Carolinas and return to the Conference Tournament with a vengeance.