Veteran Cardinal Men's Soccer In Search of Third NCAA Bid in Last Four Years Behind Host of Veterans
Boasting one of the most experienced squads in Cardinal men's soccer history, Wesleyan returns 18 letterwinners and all 11 starters from a 2013 squad that posted a solid 9-6-1 record, including a 7-3 NESCAC mark to earn the #2 seed in the NESCAC tournament. Wesleyan defeated Conn. College in the NESCAC quarterfinals, 1-0, the seventh 1-0 win for Wesleyan during the season, before falling in the semifinals to Williams, 2-1. Williams went on to reach the NCAA Division III Final Four by knocking off Amherst, the NESCAC champion, in a national quarterfinal, 1-0.
With their wealth of experience and talent, the Cardinals will be looking for their third NCAA tournament bid in the last four years as the 2014 campaign unfolds. Led by team co-captains Ben Bratt '15 (#4, main photo) and Daniel Issroff '15 (#15, photo insert upper left), Wesleyan has eight sturdy seniors to guide the team on its quest for national prominence. Bratt, one of three returning players to make first-team all-NESCAC in 2013 while also gaining second-team all-New England laurels, anchors the defense. Midfielders Brandon Sousa '16 and Charlie Gruner '17 were Wesleyan's additional all-NESCAC honorees.
Also back as starters from a year ago are Chris Kafina '16, Omar Bravo '15, Matt Lynch '15, Hans Erickson '16, Danny Rubenstein '17, Spencer Tanaka '15 and Ben Toulotte '16. Leading scorer Dylan Hoy '17 came off the bench nine times in his 15 games played to pace the squad with three goals and three assists. Kafina also had three goals while both Gruner and Sousa netted a pair, as did Lynch.
Earning the first-string spot in goal after serving as understudy to All-American and NESCAC Player of the Year Adam Purdy, Emmett McConnell '16 turned in fabulous numbers with a 0.62 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage with seven shutouts in 2013. He also stopped a pair of penalty shots against NESCAC rivals during the season.
In total, 18 of the 20 players who saw action in seven or more games during 2013 return to the pitch for 2014, giving head coach Geoff Wheeler much reason for optimism. With excellent production from last season's newcomers, Coach Wheeler is hoping for similar support from the first-years in 2014 as nine freshmen are listed on the preseason roster.
Wesleyan begins the campaign on the road Tues., Sept. 2 against in-state foe Eastern Connecticut before hosting Bowdoin Sat., Sept. 6 to inaugurate the NESCAC schedule.