DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire men's soccer team hopes to get out of the gate as fast as they did last year, as they posted a 5-0-2 record to open up the season and were ranked as high as fifth on the in the NSCAA/adidas Northeast Regional Poll. Highlights of the non-conference schedule included wins over Memphis and Massachusetts, which won the Atlantic-10 and advanced to the 2007 Final Four. The Wildcats kept pace the rest of the season and clinched the final playoff spot in the America East tournamnet as they defeated UMBC in dramatic fashion. Head coach Rob Thompson will return 19 letterwinners to go along with eight skilled newcomers, which will help fill the voids of the loss of last year's talented senior class.
Senior Chris Banks (Westborough, Mass.), who was named 2006 America East Striker and Rookie of the Year, will once again anchor the offensive force of the Wildcats. Banks led the team in goals, totaling seven in 15 games played. Dylan George (Bangor, Maine) had two goals last season, including the memorable game-winner against UMBC to clinch a playoff spot for the Wildcats. The junior, who played in all 18 games for the Wildcats, also totaled three assists for seven points. The Wildcats also return offensive threat Sean Coleman (Straham, N.H.), who posted two goals and two assists for six points while seeing action in all 18 games last season. Senior Joe Annese (Attleboro, Mass.) will add experience upfield, while newcomers Antti Arvola (Espoo, Finland), Charlie Roche (Haverhill, Mass.) and Jordan Thomas (Mohnton, Pa.) will add youth to the talented Wildcat offense.
Robin Gerum (Kullavik, Sweden), who tallied the lone Wildcat goal in last year'sAmerica East quarterfinal game, will look to pick up where he left off last season. Joe Corsello (York, Maine) and Pat Gay (North Stonington, Conn.) will also add experience to the backfield. Sophomore Alex Russell (Harisburg, Pa.), who saw solid action last season, will be joined by Caleb Shaw (Hampton, N.H.), a Marist College transfer, who played in 12 games and tallied a goal for the Red Foxes. Newcomers Alex Hussein (Haverhill, Mass.) and Ryan McNabb (Downingtown, Pa.) will round out the backfield.
Junior Colin O'Donnell (Hampden, Mass.), who saw the most time in net last season, will be back with a solid year of experience behind him. Last year, O'Donnell saw action in
15games and finished with a record of 6-6-3, including four shutouts. Fellow junior Chris Devine (Hampton, N.H.), who saw action in three games last season, along with sophomore Patrick Ryan (Weymouth, Mass.) will also be available for net action.
Marcus Barr (Wallingford, Pa.) and Brad Hilton (Merrimack, N.H.) are expected to anchor the midfield and help set the Wildcat offense in motion. Barr, who saw action in 15 games for the Wildcats, was selected as the team's Most Improved Player last season and hopes to showcase his talents this upcoming season. Hilton returns after an impressive debut season as he was selected to the America East All-Rookie Team and earned two assists, both on game-winning goals. Junior Greg Frost (Cumberland, Maine), who saw action last season, will continue to develop in the midfield this upcoming season, while Bobby Cooley (Northborough, Mass.) returns to the Wildcats for his senior year. Sophomores Josh Bronner (Belchertown, Mass.) and Greg Brown (Salem, N.H.) will look to add minutes on the field this season, while newcomers Gustav Nilsson (Pixbo, Sweden) and Turner Davis (Barrington, R.I.) are also ready to contribute to the midfield.
The Wildcats, who went undefeated in the first seven games last season, will open up the 2009 campaign on the road at Iona (9/1). The squad will return home to host the 20th Annual UNH Nike Fall Soccer Classic where they will face Bucknell (Sept. 4) and Central Connecticut State (Sept. 6) on Bremner Field. Also playing in the tournament will be America East foe Vermont. The Wildcats will then travel to Vermont where the Catamounts will host the Smith Barney Classic. First up at the tournament will be the UMass (9/11) Minutemen, who adavanced to the NCAA tournament for the third straight season, will be seeking revenge after falling to the Wildcats last year. The Wildcats will also face Portland (9/13) during the weekend. UNH will then host Colgate (9/19) in a night game on Bremner Field. The Wildcats will get their first feel of Lewis Fields when they host Harvard (9/23), which advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2008. The Wildcats will travel to face Bryant (9/26), which is in its first year Division I competition and Fairfield (9/30). America East conference action will open up for the Wildcats at Boston U. (10/7). The Terriers, who won the 2008 America East tournament title, advanced NCAA tournament for the second straight year, this time reaching the second round. The Wildcats will also face UMBC (10/10) on the road, and the ‘Cats have not lost to the Retrievers since Oct. 19, 2005. The Wildcats will return home to host America East foes Hartford (10/14) and Vermont (10/17) before traveling to face Albany (10/21). The squad will then host Stony Brook (10/24) and Binghamton (10/28) to wrap up America East regular season action. The Wildcats will host intrastate rival Dartmouth (11/3) in a night game on Bremner Field to conclude the regular season.