Georgia Southern Seniors Look To Leave Mark In Final Season
STATESBORO, Ga. - The 2010 Georgia Southern Men's Soccer team made several key acquisitions to help it accomplish the goals set by the coaches and players. Perhaps the most notable change is a member of the coaching staff.
"We want to win. I don't think anyone has that passion more than someone who has been a part of the program as a player and a coach," Kennedy said. "(Freakley) has a vested interest in our success. He's a great coach, and he's here to challenge the guys and push the guys."
The guys Freakley and Kennedy will be pushing gained valuable experience last season. The 2010 roster has six seniors and seven sophomores who played critical minutes in 2009, including five who played at least 900 minutes.
"A lot of guys earned some game experience last year. A lot of freshmen were able to start matches and get good minutes," Kennedy recalled. "At the end of the day, when freshmen come in, they don't have as vested an interest as returning players because they haven't been through spring workouts. They haven't been through strength and conditioning for a year.
"As returning players, they have that much more invested in our success, which I think is going to be good. At the end of the day, because of injuries and illnesses, a lot of guys got more experience which is terrific."
One of the leaders on this team full of experience will be senior Jon Cox (Alpharetta, Ga.), who has scored seven goals in three seasons with the Eagles. The talented striker spent the summer fine-tuning his skills with the Atlanta Blackhawks, a professional development team.
"Jon (Cox) is a player that has the ability and the desire to play at the next level. The guy's a winner, he wants to win. He's shown a renewed commitment this spring and summer, and we're excited about that," Kennedy said of his forward. "He looks sharper than he has in the last two years, and he is a real threat in the conference. He's a guy that can score goals and turn games for us."
The task of holding down the midfield and getting the ball to the feet of Cox will most likely go to seniors David Leonard (Augusta, Ga.) and Steven Hunter (Douglasville, Ga.), and sophomore Aleksandar Tomic (Sydney, Australia), who scored a goal against Gardner-Webb last season.
"(Tomic) started every game for us last year. He is very good on the ball and is a disciplined player," Kennedy stated. "David Leonard and Steven Hunter both had great spring seasons. They are going to be players we are going to look to call on to play centrally for us. Their fitness is good, and they are both seniors, so hopefully that will lead to them fighting a little harder and working harder."
Austin Steele (Kennesaw, Ga.) will be expected to anchor the defense. The senior started 33 games over the past three seasons, and is the team captain. He is also a threat to score goals, finding the back of the net five times in his career.
"(Steele) has been a consistent starter for us. Everything in the back is going to be dictated by Austin and his leadership," Kennedy remarked. "He is also a threat on set pieces because he is so good in the air and at coming forward."
The biggest question for the Eagles this season surrounds the goalkeeper position, the one spot the Eagles lack experience. Of the four goalkeepers on the roster, only one has experience in an Eagles uniform. Senior Zach Buckley (Statesboro, Ga.) played just four games last season, posting a 1-3 record with 13 saves.
Redshirt freshman Neal Bates (Watkinsville, Ga.) has a year of experience, but hasn't seen any game action. Joining the returners is a pair of transfers in junior Ryan Platt (Preston, England) and sophomore Bradley Bugg (Athens, Ga.).
"I think Zach has a leg up on Neal Bates, in that he's going into his ninth semester in the program, but Neal played all of our spring games," Kennedy said of his goalkeepers. "Neal had a great spring and played well this summer with his club team, so both of those guys are very much in the mix."
Platt played two seasons at Nazareth College, earning all-conference honors as a sophomore. During his second season, he allowed just one goal during conference play, leading his team to a 12-4-2 overall record with a perfect regular season conference mark.
"Ryan, out of all the guys, has 30 college games under his belt. He has a lot of game experience which is important for a goalkeeper," Kennedy stated. "Bradley Bugg is a player that we highly rated coming out of high school and were eager to sign him, but we didn't get him. Then, he contacted us about transferring. He's a player that has all the physical tools and the youth experience as far as his club team, both regionally and internationally."
Bugg played in three games as a freshman at Coastal Carolina, earning a 1-0 shutout win over St. Francis New York.
Kennedy also expects immediate contributions offensively from his incoming freshman class, specifically naming Hunter Norton (Evans, Ga.), son of former Eagles coach Tom Norton, as well as Ethan LaPan (Martinez, Ga.) and Drew Ruggles(Manassas, Va.), as players that are expected to compete for playing time right away.The Eagles open the season with three exhibition games, the first against Mercer on August 21. The regular season opens at home against USC Upstate on September 1, before the Eagles go on the road for four non-conference matches, including the Flash Gordon Soccer Tournament at High Point in North Carolina. The Eagles kickoff the Southern Conference schedule at home against Furman on Sept. 29. Georgia Southern has just two home matches out of nine in October, hosting UNC Greensboro on Oct. 10 before closing the regular season at home against Elon on Oct. 29.
- Category: Men's Soccer
- Published on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 17:49