Improving on last yearís 6-10-1 finish for the menís soccer team is simple in theory. Simply put, the team needs to score more.
The problems for the 2008 menís team werenít defensive. Despite having to throw Taylor Takacs í12 in at goalkeeper as a first-year, the team was able to keep its opponents off the scoreboard. Takacs prospered in the net, compiling a save percentage of .848 and allowing an average of just one goal per game. Takacs picked up some hardware for his efforts last season as he was named NCAC Newcomer of the Year and also was named second team All-NCAC.
The key to the Scotsí chances this season is its play upfront. Last year, the team managed to score just 20 goals in 17 games ó Sacha Barat Cohen is more offensive. Just seven players found the net in 2008. If the team canít find a way to light up the scoreboard every now and then, it wonít matter if Takacs is the second coming of the Berlin Wall. While defense wins championships, teams that donít score donít win. If this yearís team canít find more ways to score, it will have a hard time improving, even on last yearís 6-10-1 mark.
The offensive improvement must start at the forward spots. The forwards struggled to light up the scoreboard last year, but the veteran front line should be ready to take the next step this year. The forwards will be led by Scott Buckwald í10, who was named All-NCAC honorable mention last year. Buckwald led the Scots in goals (seven) and points (18) last year. The rest of the Scotsí offense could hinge on the play of the other forwards around Buckwald. Davis Bates í10 tied for third on the team last year with two goals. Chris DeMoll í11 netted one goal last year, and will be expected to be a larger contributor this season. Erik Beuck í12 Justin Younker í10 also saw action at forward last year. These three will look to complement Buckwald this year on the offensive side.
The teamís offense could receive a big lift if Karl Ruter í10 can stay healthy. Ruter sat out four games last year with a broken nose and severely sprained ankle. Ruter has missed parts of the past two seasons due to various injuries, but remains the teamís leading scorer in career points (34) with 15 goals and four assists. Last year, the midfielder finished second on the team in goals. The teamís offense will receive a big lift if Ruter can manage to stay on the field all season.
Along with Ruter, Brian Holmes í11 will look to anchor the midfield. Holmes scored two goals last year, but could be poised for a breakout season this year. Holmes is moving from forward back to the midfield position this year, and could combine with Ruter to give the team a more explosive midfield line.
The teamís defense will also make life easier for the offense if it continues where it left off last season. Shutdown defender Jay Keener í10, who is also an Academic All-American, will lead the way. Keener was a second team All-NCAC defender in 2007, and was named honorable mention in 2008. Keener leads a defense that allowed one goal or fewer in 11 of the teamís 15 matches.
The team has other experience around Keener on defense as well. Ryan Schlothauer í11 is a two-year starter on defense. Chase Beach also adds experience as well in the backfield ó the senior has appeared in 47 career games.
While Takacs will be a standout at keeper, there is also insurance behind last yearís newcomer of the year. Jordan OíBoyle í11 has appeared in 17 career games and and will be Takacsís backup in the goal.
This yearís team is loaded with experience. The roster abounds with seniors and juniors who are two-and-three year starters. With plenty of veteran leadership, this should be the year that the team breaks out. For this to happen, the first thing the team will need to do is drum up some offense.