|Posted August 17, 2008|
'08 Men's Soccer Preview
Call to the pitch: All potential goal scorers
Pack men's soccer team aims at more scoring punch, improved defense.
By JEFF LETOFSKY, THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Finding a way to put the ball in the net and replacing a handful
of defenders will be the top two priorities for the Colorado State
University-Pueblo men's soccer team this season.
The Pack finished 6-10-2 overall last season and 5-6-2 in the conference. The team was hamstrung offensively, managing just 22 goals in 18 games while giving up 36. The ThunderWolves were shut out five times.
Senior midfielder Udobong Obotette is the top returning player.
He led the team in points scored (seven), tied for the team lead in
goals scored with three and tallied two game-winning goals. For his
efforts, he was named RMAC honorable mention.
Head coach Roy Stanley, who enters his 15th season with the men, was impressed with the condition of his club when they reported to camp.
"This year we're bringing back 18 guys who were on the team in
the spring and have college-level experience," he said. "Last year
we had only 12 so we have players who are more sophisticated and
knowledgeable. "This is one of the fittest teams I've had come in.
All but four of the 30 passed our fitness test, which was to run
two miles in 12 minutes with our cutoff at 12:30."
Stanley understands exactly what his team must improve on this season to be successful.
"We were good at possessing the ball last season," Stanley said. "That gets you to the final third (of the field). But once we were in the final third, it wasn't a clean game. We had 36 shots one game last season and scored only one goal. It was frustrating for everybody."
In order to avoid that problem, Stanley has made scoring a priority.
"There's a lot of work on offense right now," he said. "We're doing better at it but I don't know if we have a 20-goal scorer. Finishing. It's not the discipline so much, the hard work so much. It's that extra bit of skill, that extra bit of awareness when you get the ball in scoring range. It's more of an art than a science."
There's a handful of players Stanley is looking at to add scoring punch but he wasn't committed to naming names just yet.
However, back in the fold at forwards are seniors Trevor Martinet, junior Steve Choman, sophomores Ryan Sheehan, Dillon Good and Corey Cullen and senior David Fresquez, who started on the right side last season before he struggled with an injury. Also, Phoenix (Ariz.) College transfer Erik Anderson will likely be in the mix at a forward spot.
The other question surrounding the 2008 version of the ThunderWolves is on defense. The Pack lost four of five defenders, including its goalie, both outside defenders and a center defender. Stanley is confident he has the players to plug in to the defense.
"In the spring we found a way to defend and did a better job but we're still struggling with it," Stanley said. "Last year we gave up three goals to Metro and three and four goals to Mesa. Everything else was one or two goals. We've always been able to keep things pretty tight defensively."
Replacing goalie Arturo Moranchel is a returner and a newcomer.
Sophomore Chris Smith played in one game last season and handled most of the keeper duties during the spring. And freshman Jacob Bloom is pencilled in as Smith's backup.
"I don't think we're going to rely on Chris for the special save, but he can make the consistent save, which is what I'd rather have from a keeper," Stanley said. "Goalkeeping won't be a major strength, but it's not a weakness."
Martinet and senior Allan Chacon and junior Dylan Cook have felt a different energy in practice during the preseason.
"Everybody here wants to have the best season yet," Martinet said. "This team can be in the top three in the conference. We have high expectations. Our focus this year is on the team. Everybody needs to do their job and motivate everyone else."
Chacon said he's trying to put last year in the rearview mirror.
"In soccer, you live and die with chances," he said. "Unfortunately, we died with our chances last year and that's definitely behind us. We're looking to improve, make the playoffs.
"We're all a little older, wiser, faster. Soccer is a team thing and as long as we have that love and striving for the same goal all the hard work we're putting out will pay off."
Cook admitted there's been an excitement in preseason camp.
"We all have a sour taste in our mouth from last year," he said. "We have that energy, knowing we have something to prove this year. We were unlucky in some games last year where things didn't go our way.
"But there's a different kind of energy. You can feel it. We're all itching to get back and play together with our friends. We're all best friends and we know we will have to work as one."