DURHAM, N.H. - One of the premier college soccer tournaments in the Northeast will take place this weekend as the University of New Hampshire hosts the 11th Annual Nike Fall Soccer Classic September 2-3. On Saturday, Vermont will face No. 6 Penn State at 12:30 while host UNH plays St. Bonaventure at 3. On Sunday, Vermont takes on St. Bonaventure at 12:30 while the 'Cats will square off against PSU at 3. All games are at Lewis Field on the UNH campus and admission each day is $5 with children $2.
UNH returns 13 players from a team that went 6-11-1 last season. Top returnees for New Hampshire include junior Andy Karam (Schenectady, N.Y.), who returns from a broken leg that forced him to sit out 1999, senior Drew Ferrigno (Springfield, Mass.) and sophomore captain Doug Lawver (Doylestown, Pa.). Senior forward Adam Purcell (Barrington, R.I.), who ranked among the national leaders in scoring last season, is not expected to play this weekend due to injury. The 'Cats have 15 new players on the roster this year, including four from the Granite State.
Penn State enters the tournament ranked No. 6 in the preseason NSCAA poll, the highest-ever ranking for a team competing in the Classic. The Nittany Lions return 15 players from a squad that went 19-4-1 last season. Senior Ricardo Villar (Sao Paulo, Brazil) is the center of the offense for PSU. Villar was named Soccer America's Men's Collegiate MVP last season and also garnered All-Big Ten honors. The midfield is anchored by junior Derek Potteiger (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), who was a All-Big Ten selection last season.
St. Bonaventure went 10-10-0 last season and returns 10 players from that team. Sophomore Johnny Phoumanny (Elmira, N.Y.) is the top returning scorer for the Bonnies. He totaled 12 points a year ago (5 goals, 2 assists). Other top returnees for SBU include junior Bob Hammer (Syracuse, N.Y.) and sophomore Justin Ross (Springfield, Mass.).
Vermont finished sixth in America East last season with a record of 10-7-1 overall and 4-5-0 in the league. The Catamounts, who are making their sixth-straight appearance in the tournament, are led by senior midfielder Mike Dias (Springfield, Mass.). Dias was a first-team All-America East selection last season. Junior Jamie Farrell (Palm Coast, Fla.) led the team in scoring last season with 23 points including eight goals. Senior Chris Shaver (Moon Township, Pa.) returns in net for the Catamounts after posting a 1.24 goals-against-average last season.
During the 10-year history of the tournament, New Hampshire has captured the title five times (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997). Other winners of the tournament have included West Virginia Wesleyan (1990), St. John's (1992), Bowling Green (1996) and Bradley (1998). The Rams of Philadelphia University captured the crown last year.
Vermont is making its sixth-straight appearance in the tournament, while Penn State and St. Bonaventure are making their first appearance.