|Co-captain Josh Bronner|
DURHAM, N.H. -- After a year of rebuilding, the University of New Hampshire men's soccer team looks to return to the America East Championship and make a run at the conference title in 2012.
Despite the loss of three talented seniors, the 'Cats are retaining a large group of 20 veteran players and welcoming in a skilled class of seven freshmen, all of whom are poised to have a positive impact.
Starting in net, Travis Worra (Lancaster, Pa.) returns after a stellar first year. He finished the year with a 7-8-2 record and posted five shutouts, including three consecutive (9/16-9/25). Blake Dawn (San Marino, Calif.) will also be a key reserve in net for the 'Cats.
A solid corps of backs return to the defensive zone, including seniors Ryan McNabb (Downingtown, Pa.) and Alex Hussein (Haverhill, Mass.). McNabb made 17 appearances including 10 starts, and also fired off five shots. Hussein started 16 of the 18 games that he appeared in last year and provided an offensive kick for the 'Cats, rifling off 12 shots. Jeffrey Turner (Blandon, Pa.), the lone junior on the line, started all 18 games that the Wildcats played last year. He dished out an assist while sending off five shots, three of which were on target. Sophomore classmates Adrien Lumumba (Newfields, N.H.) and Connor Pauley (Londonderry, N.H.) both look to make a big impact on the pitch this year. Lumumba made three starts in his six appearances while Pauley did not register any time.
At the midfield position, seniors Gustav Nilsson (Pixbo, Sweden), co-captain Josh Bronner (Belchertown, Mass.), Byron Greenwood (Greenland, N.H.) and midfielder/forward Charlie Roche (Haverhill, Mass.) bring plenty of depth and experience back to the line. Nilsson made 13 appearances with six of them being starts last year. He also fired off four shots, all of which were on net. Bronner started all 17 games that he played, netting a pair of goals. One goal came in the 108th minute of overtime against Holy Cross (10/18), giving New Hampshire a 2-1 victory. Roche provided versatility on the field, splitting time between the midfield and forward positions. Roche netted one goal last year, which proved to be the game-winning goal against Dartmouth (11/1) in the season finale. Despite only seeing time in three games last season, Greenwood will still be looked upon to make a big impact when he takes the field.
|Co-captain Jordan Thomas|
The juniors making their return to the line consist of Robert Palumbo (Kingston, N.H.), Matthew Weinstein (Anchorage, Alaska), and Cody Cormier (Bangor, Maine). Palumbo made nine starts in his 12 appearances and dished out three assists for three points. He also sent nine shots on net. Weinstein only saw action in two games while Cormier did not register any time on the pitch for the 'Cats.
Sophomores Clint Caso (Kinnelon, N.J.) and Cameron Bielski (Dover, Mass.) will be looked upon to play key roles in the upcoming season. Caso will see time in both the midfield and defensive slots as he did last year. He made nine appearances with three starts in 2011 while sending off four shots on net. Bielski made a pair of starts to go along with his 10 appearances and notched one shot.
At the forward position, co-captain Jordan Thomas (Mohnton, Pa.) will be the lone senior on the line this year. Thomas started all 18 games for New Hampshire last year and registered four shots. David Schlatter (Marlton, N.J.) had a stellar rookie campaign for the Wildcats last season, netting three goals and dishing out a pair of assists for eight points. He appeared in 18 games with 12 starts up top and was relentless with his shots. He fired 28 total and 12 found their way to the keeper. Aaron Smith (Loudon, N.H.) made 15 appearances between the midfield and forward position, two of them coming on starts. He also notched a pair of shots on the year. Rounding out the sophomore class of strikers is Paul Bianchi (Essex, Vt.). Bianchi made six starts through his 11 appearances and tallied a shot.
The team and coaching staff extended a big welcome to a tremendous group of newcomers during the off-season. A.J. Albers (Eagan, Minn.), Andrew Chaput (Manchester, N.H.), Lukas Goerigk (Berlin, Germany), Angel Maldonado (Lennox, Calif.), Jesus Tedula (Zaragoza, Spain), Chris Wild (South Berwick, Maine) and Ryan Carpenter (Newmarket, N.H.) make up the group and are poised to make an immediate impact for the 'Cats.
Albers arrived from Eagan, Minn., after finishing up his U17/U18 campaign with the Minnesota Thunder. As a senior at Eagan High School, Albers was named Most Valuable Player of his squad and earned all-conference and all-state honors. He was also a member of the Star-Tribune All-Metro First Team. Joining him on the back line is Chaput, a Manchester, N.H. native. Chaput is coming off a successful campaign with the U17 and U18 Seacoast United teams. During his high school career at Manchester Central, he helped lead the squad to an 18-0-1 season record en route to earning the Division I state title. He was also tabbed a First Team All-State selection and was nominated for the Gatorade/ESPN N.H. Player of the Year. Rounding out the incoming backs is Goerigk. He comes to the U.S. from his Tennis Borrusia squad in the U19 Regionaliga. Also a member of the team in the U17 Bundesliga, he helped lead them to a pair of runner-up finishes in the Berlin Youth Cup in 2007 and 2011. For his high school team (Willi-Graf-Gymnasium), Goerigk was a key factor in the team's successful Berlin School Youth Championship campaign in 2011.
Maldonado, a California native, comes to New Hampshire and will be added to the midfield line. He is coming off a two-year stint with the Pateadores, a team in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. During his U15/U16 campaign, Maldonado was named captain of the squad and was invited to the U.S. U15 National Team pool in 2009. He was also a four-year letter winner at Amino Leadership Charter High School where he was named to the All-Selectional Team in 2009 and 2010. Joining him at midfield is Tudela. He comes to the U.S. from Spain where he recently finished playing with U.D. Amistad in the U19 National Division. From 2006-09, Tudela was a member of Real Zaragoza and graduated from the British School of Aragon last spring.
Wild comes to the University of New Hampshire after spending his freshman year with at Central Connecticut State University. There, he appeared in a pair of games for the Blue Devils, including his collegiate debut against Yale (Sept. 23). He also registered time against Hartwick (9/23) at the defense position. Carpenter, a sophomore at UNH, joined the team in the offseason and will serve in the goalkeeping position. A four-year starter at Newmarket High School in Newmarket, N.H., Carpenter helped the Mules to a final-four appearance his junior year. Carpenter received a pair of Second-Team All State honors through his high school career and was a First-Team All State selection as a senior. He played club soccer with the Seacoast United Soccer Club and was a member of the Super Y team.
With the returning 20 players and the addition of seven great athletes, the Wildcats are slated to have a tremendous 2012 campaign and assert themselves as the top team in the conference.