PHILADELPHIA--The Penn men's soccer team opens the 2009 season Friday. While a lot of teams talk about being a new team for a new year, Penn -- with nine starting spots open and 14 members of the 2008 roster moving on -- has a lot of options. One thing has been consistent, however; the team's mantra of accountability and team unity that brought them an Ivy League title and trip to the NCAA in 2008.
The Quakers host Big East foe Seton Hall at 5 p.m. It is the first time since 2003, and just the second time in Head Coach Rudy Fuller's 11-year tenure, that the Red and Blue have opened the season with a home game.
The two returning starters are sophomores Christian Barreiro and 2008 honorable mention All-Ivy pick Jake Levin. While those might be the only names you recognize now, Penn's 2008 bench contributed solid minutes; those players are sure to quickly make names for themselves in 2009.
For a head start, keep an eye on senior captain Lee Rubenstein, who ably stepped into a starting role in the last three games of the season. Tom Brandt and Zach Barnett are also likely to join Rubenstein and Levin on the backline.
Always a hot topic, goalkeeping is magnified this year with the graduation of shutout specialist Drew Healy. Waiting for the nod are junior Ben Berg and two first-year keepers, sophomore walk-on Dan Thau and freshman Garon Smith. Though Berg has collegiate starting experience, Coach Fuller is keeping his cards close to the vest for now.
Up top, Loukas Tasigianis is this season's top returning scorer and has a history of coming up with big goals, with two OT goals for Penn. Also providing some scoring, Jason Gorskie and Barreiro each scored twice last season.
With the up-and-down history the Penn and Seton Hall teams have had recently, this contest is sure to be more of the same. The Pirates have one game under their belts, a tough 1-0 loss thanks to a Monmouth goal in the 80th minute.
After SHU, Penn will turn its attentions to Philly neighbor Villanova for a road game Monday at 1 p.m. Note the date change as the game was previously scheduled for Sunday.
For the third season, Penn Athletic Communications Associate Director Jen Werner will provide her live in-game blogs for this weekend and select games throughout the season.