Rebuild or Rebound?
Spartans hope to improve on last year's near-miss of playoffs despite youth
Issue date: 8/28/09 Section: Soccer
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Coach Dan Palmer said, "Year in and year out, we always want to compete in the upper half of the conference and if that happens, there's a good chance we'll get a bid to the national tournament."
Coming off a 13-5-1 season where the team just missed an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the Spartans are hoping for a different ending to this year's season.
Luckily, the Spartans are returning a group of talented players. Sophomore Ben Yabrow, who started five games last season due to an injury which sidelined starter Konrad Karasek, will take over as goalie.
Yabrow said, "Coming in for Konrad last season towards the end of the year was extremely helpful for this season. I was able to gain a lot of experience in working with my defenders." Yabrow posted excellent numbers, including a .828 save percentage and allowing only five goals in over 528 minutes of action.
Sophomore defender Niro Wimalasena, a returning All-UAA player, leads the team in minutes played last season, logging in 1231 minutes. The Spartans will rely on his tenacity in order to keep opposing offenses from scoring. Of all the returning Spartans, sophomore Vinny Bell leads the team in goals (7) and points (15) scored last year. Junior Jordan Fox also had impressive numbers, scoring five goals and 14 points.
Although the Spartans have plenty of youth, the team also has some much-needed experience. Senior midfielder Brian Evans, an All-UAA player, and senior Jordan Cottington will be co-captains, giving guidance to some of the inexperienced players. Both Evans and Cottington played in all 19 games last season.