College of Charleston Cougars Men’s Soccer Ignites Historic Campaign

 

Friday, August 29Stats Video
5 p.m.Furman vs. Seattlewww.CofCStats.com n/a
7:30 p.m.UC Santa Barbara at CofCwww.CofCStats.comCharleston Network
Sunday, August 31
12 p.m.Furman vs UC Santa Barbarawww.CofCStats.com n/a
2:30 p.m.Seattle at CofCwww.CofCStats.com

Charleston Network

 

CHARLESTON, SC August 28, 2014 – The College of Charleston men’s soccer team is set to begin its 40th season of competitive soccer with the Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic which will draw CofC, No. 18 UC Santa Barbara, Seattle and Furman to Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island for a fully-slated Labor Day weekend.

CofC Men’s Soccer Weekend Preview

OPENING THOUGHTS…
Head Coach Ralph Lundy:
“Santa Barbara year in and year out are in the top 10. That’s the way their program is. They average 7,000 fans a night for every home game, and their squad is always full of great players. Every year they’re great. So that is a great challenge for us; that’s what we want. University of Seattle had a great year last year, and went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. We did this because we want to play the best, so we have the challenge.”

Ralph Lundy - Head Coach CofC Cougars men's soccer

Ralph Lundy – Head Coach
CofC Cougars men’s soccer

“It’s very important to celebrate this 40th year anniversary. The College of Charleston started a program in 1974 when soccer wasn’t cool, it was new. The College took that step, and over 40 years The College has been a leader. Our graduates are all over doing great things, especially in soccer and in youth soccer. It’s going to be a great weekend to celebrate 40 years of Cougar soccer.”

Junior Adam Purvis:
“It’s always fun representing Charleston soccer. Last year didn’t go exactly as we planned, so this year we’ve been putting in the hard work and hopefully we can get some results to start out the year and overall have a good season.”

“Santa Barbara puts in work. They’re fast; they’re big; they’re strong, so we have to do what we’ve been practicing as best we can. Seattle is good as well, but hopefully we can get some results off both of them.”

Senior Tanner Clay:
“We had three pretty good matches (in preseason), so we’re pretty excited about that. We’re working on our defensive shape and transitioning forward so we can score more goals, because we didn’t get too many last year. We’re going to bring a lot of energy and be strong on defense. We’re going to be trying to get forward and hopefully get some goals. We’re trying to turn some heads around the world.”

“It means a lot; it’s my senior year so I’m putting everything on the field. Coach Lundy always talks about the pride and passion… there are so many alumni coming down so we’re playing for them and putting Cougar soccer on the national stage.”

KICKING OFF THE COUGARS
The 2013 Cougars were a better team than their 4-11-1 record might indicate, as they challenged eight teams which were ranked or receiving votes in the NSCAA Coaches poll, and were bested by just one goal in nine of their 11 losses.

Nonetheless, the Cougars will be eager to put it behind them and achieve a higher level of success in 2014 which will mark their second season in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Injuries and a lack of goal scoring proved to be the Achilles heel for the young squad a season ago, but the 2014 edition of the program is eager to return 90% of its goal getters from a year ago.

Now-sophomore Trinidadian Xavier Rajpaul led the team with four goals last season as a freshman, while classmate and countryman Adan Noel is back for his sophomore season after a two-goal rookie campaign.

Senior Troy Peterson has 10 goals to his career ledger, while his four-year classmates Daan Brinkman and Tanner Clay will anchor a backline which has been CofC’s foundation in recent years. Clay, a versatile 6’3” force, also has the ability to expose teams on the attacking side as well.

Lundy, entering his 28th season as head coach as the fourth-winningest active coach (11th all-time) in Division I, brought in power-conference transfers to bolster goal scoring and strengthen/deepen the back line. Nico Rittmeyer (North Carolina) and Kye West (Xavier) will alleviate the goal getting effort, while local product Trent Rieflin (South Carolina) will sure up the already-imposing defensive line.

In all, eight of 11 regular starters are back with an extra year’s worth of experience under their belts as the Cougars look to make waves in the ever-challenging CAA.

SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS…
Last season, UCSB completed an undefeated run through Big West play and earned the No. 10 national seed and a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament. The Gauchos, who won the national championship in 2006, have qualified for the NCAA tournament 11 times in 12 seasons and have led the nation in attendance for seven consecutive seasons.

The Gauchos have been ranked in each of the major national preseason polls that have been released as of today, coming in as high as No. 15 (College Soccer News). Elsewhere, they check in at No. 18 (NSCAA, Soccer Times) and No. 23 (College Sports Madness, Top Drawer Soccer).

Tim Vom Steeg is in his 16th season as head coach of the UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer program, having guided the Gauchos to seven Big West Conference regular season titles in the last 13 years. He was named NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year by the NSCAA for the second time after leading UCSB to the program’s first national championship in 2006.

UCSB sophomore midfielder Ismaila Jome picked up a number of awards ahead of the 2014 season, headlined by his inclusion on the 32-man MAC Hermann Award Watch List, the most prestigious individual award in collegiate soccer.

Highlighted by Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Josh McNeely, five Gauchos were named to the College Sports Madness Preseason All-Big West Team earlier this month. McNeely was joined by Jome on the First Team, while forward Charlie Miller and midfielders Drew Murphy and Nick DePuy were Second Team selections.

The Cougars will also have to deal with what TopDrawerSoccer deemed the eight-best freshman recruiting class in the country.

SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS…
After the team’s first ever NCAA Division I Tournament appearance and victory in 2013, the Redhawks look to continue building upon last year’s success. The Redhawks were picked to repeat their 2014 WAC men’s soccer championship in a vote by the league’s 10 head coaches.

Head coach Pete Fewing was named WAC Coach of the Year, Miguel Gonzalez was named WAC Offensive Player of the Year, and Kyle Bjornethun was named WAC Freshman of the Year.

Fewing begins his third year as head coach of the men’s soccer team in Division I play and 21stseason overall at Seattle U.

Seattle will have a tall task in replacing graduated goalkeeper Jake Feener who led the nation in total saves and saves per game last season. Also gone is Miguel Gonzalez who led the team in virtually every recordable offensive category, including his team-high seven goals last season.

The bright offensive spots on the returning roster are Brady Ballew who has made 53 career appearances and scored nine times, and Hamza Haddadi with 40 appearances and eight goals.

REMEMBERING AARON OLITSKY…
This yearly tournament is held in honor of Aaron Olitsky, a 1997 graduate of the College who died tragically in a car accident in 2001. Olitsky is remembered by many for his dedication and resolve in everything he set out to do. This annual tournament in his honor raises money for the Olitsky Memorial Foundation.

At just 120 pounds, Olitsky weathered the rigors of walking on to the team and sitting out a season’s worth of matches as a redshirt freshman. Despite the odds stacked against him, no one worked harder in practice than Olitsky. A pesky defender, Olitsky’s competiveness was unrivaled as he always took on the most demanding on-field assignments and challenged his teammates to improve with him.

His dedication paid off as he became an integral player while the CofC soccer team experienced some of its most successful years in program history. The Cougars won their conference, the Trans America Athletic Conference, each season Olitsky was a member of the team. Olitsky factored heavily in the team’s success and scored the game-winning goals which propelled CofC to NCAA Tournament berths in 1994, 1995 and 1996. He was also included on the 1996 TAAC All-Tournament team.

“He was a great player on the ’94, ’95 and ’96 teams whose attitude and persistence have become the standard for our program,” said Lundy. “He was a bit of an underdog with a spirit that said ‘I will not be defeated’ not only on the soccer field but in all his endeavors. Every day, I challenge our players to be more like Aaron Olitsky.”

THE PROFESSIONAL PITCH
The weekend action will unfold on the pitch of Blackbaud Stadium, home of the USL Pro’s Charleston Battery. Completed in April 1999, Blackbaud Stadium became the first privately-funded soccer-specific stadium in the United States. Styled after the classic English soccer experience, the stadium seats 5,100 and offers fans an unmatched environment with superb sight-lines, concessions, a children’s interactive soccer theme park, and even a plush English-styled pub, The Three Lions.

Game tickets will be $7 per game for adults and $5 for youth, but any kid wearing a soccer jersey will get in free. It is also Military/First Responder Night sponsored by Army ROTC. Tickets will be $3 for all military personnel and first responders.

A student bus will be run from the Stern Center starting at 6 p.m. The first 300 students in attendance will receive a shirt, and the first 100 will receive free food.

Directions to Blackbaud:
From N. Charleston
Take I-526 towards Mt. Pleasant
Take Exit 23A, Clements Ferry Road
Merge onto Clements Ferry Road
Turn left onto St. Thomas Island Drive
Stadium is one mile on the left

From Mt. Pleasant
Take I-526 towards North Charleston
Take Exit 24, Daniel Island (exit will loop around underneath 526)
Merge onto Seven Farms Road
Go one mile and make a right onto Daniel Island Drive
Stadium is 8/10 mile on right

From I-95
Take I-26 east and exit on I-526 east
Follow I -526 East to Exit 23A
Take Exit 23A, Clements Ferry Road
Merge onto Clements Ferry Road
Turn left onto St. Thomas Island Drive
Stadium is one mile on the left

MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE FOR THE MATCHES…
Fans unable to make it to Blackbaud can enjoy a full broadcast of CofC’s contests against UCSB and Seattle, provided by the Charleston Sports Network and made available on CofCSports.com.

CofCStats.com will provide in-depth statistical comparisons and play-by-play for all four weekend matches, including the neutral site contests between Furman and UCSB/Seattle.

KEEPING UP WITH THE COUGARS…
For all information pertinent to CofC women’s soccer, follow the Cougars on Twitter (@CofCSoccer). The account provides photos, insight into the team’s goings-on, and in-game observations and updates.

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson

About the Author:

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson is the founder and Editor of Beach Carolina Magazine. Living along the coast of North Carolina, Mike has a passion for the beach and loves to bring news and events of the Carolinas to others around the world.

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