By Emily Barksdale
It looks to be a promising season for the 2011 Furman Men’s Soccer Team. Ranked in College Soccer News’s Preseason Top 30, the Paladins will battle tough teams from the get-go, hosting the Duke Blue Devils August 29 at 7 p.m. for their home opener. But if last season was any indicator as to the success of this year’s team, things are looking up.
Nine starters will return from the 2010 roster, including 2010 all-conference goalkeeper AlecKann (this year’s senior captain) and all-conference Freshmen of the Year Michael Gandier and Jacob Brown, as well as 2008 SoCon Freshman of the Year Coleton Henning, who is coming off a knee injury last season. Last year’s team posted a 10-7-2 overall record, going 4-1-2 in the league on their way to a share of the title of Southern Conference Champions.
In addition, Head Coach Doug Allison says, “We are very excited about the whole recruiting class, including the two transfers. The recruiting class has been ranked number five in the country, and as a whole, it builds up the future of men’s soccer.”
But some games will still be a challenge. Allison promises that 16th ranked Duke will provide an excellent matchup. He adds, “Conference is very tough every year. Particularly after being conference champions last year, people will be gunning for [us]!”
Allison, who is in his 17th year at Furman, is joined this season by Dan Popik, one of College Soccer News’s “Top 20 Assistant Coaches in 2011,” as the new Associate Head Coach. Popik has spent the previous six years at NC State and replaces Derek Marinatos, who was here for five seasons.
Team goals for the season include making it to the NCAA playoffs, maintaining a team GPA of at least 3.0, and continuing numerous community service projects. The first game of the season will be August 26 at Campbell.
Game attendance in recent years has been “tremendous,” says Allison. “We enjoy every bit of the fan support and the student support we get at Stone Soccer Stadium,” he added.