DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire will play host to one of the top men's collegiate soccer tournaments in the Northeast as the 13th annual Nike Fall Soccer Classic takes place this weekend. The tourney kicks off Friday (August 30) with Adelphi facing Vermont at 2 p.m. and UNH taking on the Leopards of Lafayette at 4:30. Sunday, September 1, the Catamounts take on Lafayette at 12:30 p.m. while the Wildcats face Adelphi in the tournament finale at 3. The tournament is scheduled to be played at Cowell Stadium. Admission each day is $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12.
UNH, which has captured the tournament five times in the 12-year history of the event, return 18 letterwinners from last season's squad that reached the America East tournament. Among the top returners are senior co-captains Doug Lawver (Doylestown, Pa.) and Christian Pauckstadt (Wuppertal, Germany), leading scorer Josh Hareld (N. Kingstown, R.I.) and Third Team All-New England selection Brendan Hankard (Glastonbury, Conn.). Nine newcomers bolster head coach Rob Thompson's squad as the 'Cats look to capture the tourney crown for the first time since 1997.
Adelphi, 8-8-1 a season ago, returns 14 letterwinners including third and fourth leading scorers Marlon McEachnie and Tal Sheinfeld. Lafayette was one of the top defensive squads in the nation last season, ranking fourth in team goals-against average (0.56) behind a defense anchored by Paulo Coelho and Matt Battiste. Vermont, the America East champion in 2000, looks to rebound from a disappointing 2001 campaign as they return 15 letterwinners and seven starters, including 2001 Nike Classic All-Tournament team selections Keli Helgason and T.J. Mead.
During the 12-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), Bradley (1998), Philadelphia (1999) and Penn State (2000). Last season the Hawks of Hartwick College captured the crown.
Vermont is making its eighth-straight appearance in the tournament, while Lafayette made its only appearance in 1996. Adelphi will be playing in its first tourney.