2009 Men's Soccer Preview
Head coach Rolf Piranian is excited about the Generals chances
If senior leadership is a strong indicator of the strength and commitment of a team, the Generals four seniors: midfielder Drew Crowley (Weston, Mass./Weston), defender Teddy Grover (Lexington, Va./Episcopal), forward Strock Moore (Birmingham, Ala./Briarwood Christian) and defender Reed Stevens (Midland, Texas/Midland) will look to lead the team to the top of the ODAC after posting a 9-6-2 record last season.
“It’s a small group, only four seniors,” stated Piranian, “but all of them are major contributors to the team.
Leadership will be an important part of the success of the team, especially with some questions lying both up front and in the backfield. When asked about the outlook for the season, Piranian stated that the two biggest questions were the success of both the defense in stopping goals and the offense finding the net more often.
“The keys to our season rest with our front and back ends of the team,” remarked Piranian.
The Generals have moved to a new system in the interest of increasing scoring production. This has entailed moving around some of their personnel.
The Generals’ front line will have a new look, but with a lot of familiar names, led by veterans James Pymm (Smithtown, N.Y./St. Anthony’s) and sophomore Huntley Johnson (Gainesville, Fla./St. Francis). They will be joined by first-year David Phillips (Reisterstown, Md./Loyola Blakefield) in the front.
All of the returnees on the front line will look to mature offensively. Pymm (1g, 2a) finished fifth on the team in scoring last season, while Johnson added a goal of his own.
On the flanks, the Generals return senior captain Moore and sophomores Will Bouch (Charleston, S.C./Porter-Gaud) and Connor Pierce (Dallas, Texas/Highland Park). First-year John Stallé (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) will look to be a major addition.
It is important for the Generals to play stingy defense. Piranian will look to the senior leadership of Grover and Stevens to lead the defense, which holds a lot of experience. Last season the Generals’ allowed only 15 goals and posted 0.85 goals against average, third best in the ODAC. The seniors will be joined by juniors Greg Jackson (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic), David Coriell (Annandale, N.J./North Hunterdon) and Eoin Power (Weston, Mass./Weston), sophomore Pierce, and first-year players Conor Starr (Summit, N.J./The Pingry School) and Robert Wiseman (Danville, Va./George Washington).
“Finding the right back four is crucial for the success of the season,” stated Piranian.
And while Piranian may have questions about the front and backfields, one area he feels confident about is the midfield. The Generals return a solid core of veterans in addition to some strong rookie players.
“We have a lot of experience and depth in the midfield, along with strong leadership,” stated Piranian. “They will be reinforced by the addition of some exciting rookie players.”
The midfielders will be led by captain Crowley, who will be joined by juniors Ben Belair (McLean, Va./Langley) and Bryce Sweeney (Richmond, Va./Collegiate), and sophomore Kit Burgin (Atlantic Beach, Fla./Episcopal).
“This is a group of returning veterans that I know I can rely on,” remarked Piranian.
Sophomore James Paldino (Kensington, Conn./Kingswood-Oxford), first-year Dylan Norvell (Richmond, Va./Henrico) and Power will also provide more options at midfielder.
“Goalkeeping should be one of our team strengths,” stated Piranian.
The Generals will be led in goal by junior Ben Bartlett (Towson, Md./McDonough).
“We have four solid keepers, so that keeps the position highly competitive,” remarked Piranian.
Bartlett recorded time in 16 of the Generals’ 17 games last season. He started 15 contests, posting a .865 save percentage and a 0.79 goals-against average while notching a 7-5-2 overall record. Bartlett will be joined by fellow junior William Dorrance (Hershey, Pa./Hershey) and sophomores Alex Lambert (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Charminade) and Ben Petitto (Gainesville, Fla./St. Francis). Dorrance played in three games and did not allow a goal, while Lambert saw time in four contests and logged 10 saves in just over 154 minutes of action. Petitto is a transfer from the University of Rochester and looks to continue to add solid depth at the position.
Finding players in new positions and starting the season with questions is nothing new to Piranian, who has confidence that the Generals will be ready for action this season.
“The big challenge is to figure out how the pieces of the puzzle all fit together to make this team one that is capable of making a run in the ODAC,” remarked Piranian.
“The team is working very hard and ready for the season to begin,” he continued.
The Generals will open the season Saturday against Birmingham Southern at the Kyle Rote, Jr. Invitational, hosted by Sewanee. They will open up the ODAC season on the road at Randolph-Macon September 23 with a 4:00 pm start time.