Sometimes a fresh start can help launch a turnaround, and that
is exactly what Washington and Lee Head Men's Soccer Coach
Rolf Piranian, in his 35th season at the helm, is doing with his
squad for the 2010 season.
In addition to adding nine first-year players, many of the returnees on Piranian's roster will not only have new positions, but also new uniform numbers on their shirts. And Piranian is hoping the new-look Generals will once again climb to the top of the ODAC.
"We have an influx of new talent this season," remarked Piranian. "More importantly, we have a lot of upperclassmen who have really stepped it up from last season. It feels like a different team [from last season]."
While there may be a lot of youth making its way on the roster, one place where Piranian can look for upperclassmen experience is in goal. Competing for the top spot in net this season will be juniors Alex Lambert and Ben Petitto, with senior William Dorrance close on their heels.
"There is healthy competition right now between Lambert and Petitto for the starting spot," stated Piranian. "And Dorrance is right alongside in the competition. No matter who starts, I feel all three are a solid option [in net]."
Lambert will look to gain the top spot after starting the Generals' final five games last season. He appeared in six games, posting a 1-2-1 overall record with a 0.82 goals-against average (5 GA) and .792 save percentage (19 saves) in 548 minutes of playing time. Petitto and Dorrance both saw action in one game last season, with Petitto stopping two shots in 45:00 of action, while Dorrance allowed one goal in 45:00 of play.
Another area where Piranian sees a strong upperclassmen presence is with the defense. Captains, senior Greg Jackson, and sophomore Conor Starr, will look to lead the charge, something that Piranian is excited about.
"To have two captains in the backfield is a great advantage," remarked Piranian. "Both guys are seasoned veterans and have shown great leadership."
The defensive unit will also lean on the returning talents of senior David Coriell and sophomore Collier Wiseman. A corps of first-year players look to contribute immediately, including Brendan Farley, Zach Clarke, Patrick Greenwood and Basti Richter. Although listed as a sophomore, this will be Richter's first season playing for the Generals after missing the 2009 campaign with an injury.
"Richter will be a major addition to our backline," said Piranian.
One of the biggest areas of depth for Piranian this season will be in the midfield. Eleven of the 24 field players are listed as midfielders, including five first-year players.
"The depth we have at midfield this season will be a key to our success," stated Piranian. "We have a great balance of seasoned veterans and aspiring new, talented first-year players."
Piranian is looking to a plethora of returning players, including senior Ben Belair, juniors Kit Burgin, Huntley Johnson, Jamie Paldino and Connor Pierce and sophomore John Stallé, to have very strong seasons. Paldino finished last season as the team's third-best scorer with seven points (2g, 3a), while Belair added a goal and Stallé an assist. Pierce will make the move to midfield after spending the past two seasons in the backfield.
Piranian only lists five forwards on his roster, with senior captain James Pymm and sophomore Dave Phillips looking to head the group. Pymm led the Generals in scoring last season with 15 points (7g, 1a) in 14 appearances, while Phillips was fourth with six points (3g) in 16 contests, including 15 starts. Junior Paldino, first-year Clay Pristou, and sophomore Dylan Norvell will all see playing time up top.
"If we are to be a successful team this fall, we need these forwards to really step up their game," Piranian pointed out.
And with all the changes, Piranian is excited about his team and the prospects for a great season.
"The ODAC will be tough this year, and so will our out-of-conference opponents," said Piranian. "The team has worked very hard during pre-season and the team chemistry has been very good. Our captains are doing a great job. This team will be very competitive."
The Generals will open up the season on the road at Elizabethtown College as a part of the Blue Jay Classic. W&L will face host Elizabethtown on Friday, September 10 at 7:30 p.m.