Centre soccer coaches optimistic

August 31, 2004|JILL ERWIN

The Centre College men's soccer team will get plenty of home matches early, but the women will be more than a quarter of the way through their season before they play a home game.

However, as different as the schedules are, the two teams both have high hopes for the upcoming season.

The men are coming off an 11-6-1 season and are aiming for the school's fourth NCAA Tournament appearance with an experienced team and a difficult schedule even though 10 of the first 12 games are at home.

In addition to playing in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (the top-ranked Division III soccer conference that features defending national champion Trinity), the Colonels will also face perennial power Dominican University, which finished tied for No. 6 in the national rankings last year.

"The teams we're playing (early) are not that good of teams, but they're teams we should be able to beat if we are who we think we are," Centre coach Jeb Burch said. "Then you're sitting at 10-0, 12-0 and you're going to be ranked in the top three in the region and be nationally ranked and be on your way."


Borough will be the catalyst

Burch said wherever his team goes will depend on the play of junior midfielder Brad Borough. The coach says he will be the catalyst for any success the Colonels may experience.

"It's all based on Brad Borough," Burch said. "Our defense is going to get us to the (NCAA) tournament, but Brad is the catalyst if we're going to be winning games. If he wants to be a great player and an active player, he will have to exert his will upon teams.

"Trey Janes is arguably our best player, but we need people to get the ball to our strikers to score, and that burden rests on Brad."

The Colonels have a large group of sophomores and freshmen that will play. Burch may start freshman Chris Creger in goal, and at least one other first-year player in the field.

"This is the best talent pool we've ever had at Centre from top to bottom," Burch said. "But our strength is our defense. We shouldn't give up too many goals this year."

The Centre women enter the season with a new coach and high goals of their own coming off an 8-6-1 season. Former men's assistant Jay Hoffman, a former Centre player, takes over for Gina Nicoletti and said he expects the Colonels to play a high-speed game featuring overlapping runs and aggressive play.

"We're going to have very strong play in the middle," Hoffman said. "I'd like to see us really have players with the confidence to take an opposing player (one on one) in the offensive third."

Hoffman would like to see Yeakel reach double digits in goals

Hoffman said he'd like to see senior Lindsay Yeakel reach double digits in goals this year, and also said Elizabeth Hurst, Nikki Hollabaugh and Maggie Ray will be key to the Colonels' attack.

He is counting on seniors Meghan Mesalam and Laura Heil to anchor the defense in front of first-year goalie Erin Haney, who replaces four-time All-SCAC keeper Jessica Chisley.

"Laura is our sweeper, and she has really worked in the preseason with the communication process, calling out marks, asking to play the ball and working to swing the ball back and forth," Hoffman said. "I'd like to see her attitude and personality show through that, because she has an excellent attitude and personality.

"Meghan can make the transitions either as an outside midfielder or as a fullback and she'll be able to make them without having to be reminded. Her speed alone is going to be obvious on the field, and hopefully we can turn that into a dangerous advantage."

Hoffman said he's excited about the upcoming season.

"Judging from last year's play, they were a step behind Trinity and DePauw, but with positive praise and some motivation and a consistent training environment throughout the year, hopefully we will be able to compete with them and walk out with a close game and hopefully we're on the good side of that," Hoffman said.

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