Monarchs Open Season Against No.12/17 SMU FridayIn UVA Classic
Aug. 27, 2008
NORFOLK, VA- The defending Colonial Athletic Association Champion Monarchs open the regular season Friday at 4 p.m. against the Ponies of SMU in the first round of the UVA Soccer Classic. SMU ranks 12th by CollegeSoccer News and 17th by the NSCAA/adidas. The Monarchs will then play St. John's on Sunday at 2:30. ODU has never played SMU and are 0-1 against St. John's.
2008 MEN'S SOCCER OUTLOOK
The Old Dominion University soccer program continues to climb its way to national prominence under the direction of four-time CAA Coach of the year Alan Dawson. The 2007 season was no different as the Monarchs captured the CAA Championship, won 14 matches, earned their sixth straight NCAA Tournament bid, and advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA College Cup for the second straight year. ODU ranked 19th nationally in the final polls after beating Providence at home in the first round and sixth ranked Brown on the road in the second round.
ODU returns 11 lettermen led by two-time All-CAA selection and first team All-region Trevor Banks (6 gls, 3 ast). Banks is a pre-season Co-CAA Player of the Year and pre-season third team All-American selection.
Also returning are Nane Joseph (2 gls, 3 ast),CAA All-Rookie selection T.J. Beaulieu (3 gls, 2 ast) , and CAA selection Ambane Emmanuel (5 gls). The Monarchs will be without the services of second team All-CAA keeper Evan Newton (0.63 GAA, 11 shutouts ). Newton, who was also a pre-season All-CAA pick fractured the head of the radius in his left elbow in an exhibition match against Virginia last weekend.
The Monarchs lost thee standout starters from a year agao in All-American defender David Horst, a two-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year selection, leading scorer and CAA tournament MVP A.J. Kulp, and two-time All-CAA defensive standout Yomby William. Horst became the first ever Monarch to be selected in the first round of the MLS Super draft, and William was selected in the second round.
MIDFIELDERS The Monarchs return veterans Trevor Banks, Nane Joseph and Bobby Foglesong (2gls, 1 ast). "We are going to be a more dynamic team in the midfield," says Dawson. "Obviously we have some key players back from last year in what should be a very strong midfield."
"This is the unit that has the most question marks. We have seven to eight defenders. Our job as coaches is to come up with the best combination and get that unit on the field as soon as we can in order to get ready for a very strong opening schedule."
"I think this will be more of an offensive team than we had last year. We have a lot of choices, and depth. Again, it's a matter of us figuring out what the best combination up front will be. I think we will have the ability to rotate forwards."
"We return Ambane Emmanuel who was very strong for us down the stretch last year, especially in the post season. Stefen Rabben will be available after six games, T.J. Beaulieu had a fine freshman year and is ready to step up to the plate and become a more consistent performer. "
"In general, with the new players we signed, both freshmen and transfers, I think we will be more dynamic at this position."
THE SCHEDULE Again, the Monarchs will play one of the nation's strongest schedules, three of ODU's first five games will be against teams who are constant threats in the national tournament. The Monarchs will open play in Virginia's tournament against SMU which has reached the NCAA tournament 14 straight years and were in the national semifinals in 2005. The Monarchs will then play BIGEAST power and 2003 NCAA runner-up, St. John's , in game two of the event.
ODU stays on the road to play in UNC Greensboro's Kickoff Classic and will meet Southern Conference perennial power UNCG in game two. The Spartans have reached the NCAA round of 16 three of the last four years. ODU returns home to host the 33rd annual Stihl Soccer Classic and meet Massachusetts who reached the NCAA semi-finals last year.
"I think it's the first year in a few years that we will have quite a few unanswered questions, particularly defensively," says Dawson. " It's exciting as a coach to see some of the new faces, and see if they can help us immediately. There are some big shoes to fill, and it will be interesting with such a difficult early schedule how this team reacts to the challenge."
The Monarchs will then do battle in the always strong CAA with 11 games. This year, the league will play on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The CAA Championships begin Nov. 11 with the quarterfinals at home sites and the league semi-finals and finals Nov. 14 and 16 at the home of the regular season champion.