PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team opens its 2015 campaign this weekend, beginning its 18th season under head coach Rudy Fuller. The Quakers waste no time testing themselves, opening with No. 7 Washington (2-0-0) on Friday night at Rhodes Field before a Sunday match in the nation’s capital against an American (2-0-0) side which is also receiving votes in this week’s NSCAA Division I Top-25.
Friday’s home opener is part of a doubleheader with the women’s soccer team. The match with Washington is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff and will be streamed for free on the Ivy League Digital Network as part of the ILDN’s free preview weekend.James C. Gentle Head Coach of Men’s Soccer Rudy Fuller is 6-9-2 all-time in season openers, but he is an impressive 12-3-2 in home openers as coach of the Quakers. The Quakers have won their last two home openers – also season openers – including a 2-0 win over Drexel last year.
Penn returns 12 players from last season, including seven starters and eight players who appeared in eight or more matches.
Junior Alec Neumann, who led the Quakers and ranked third in the Ivy League in goals (8) and points (21), returns up top for the Red and Blue. He is the leading returning scorer among all Ivy League players and enters this 2015 season with 13 goals and 35 total points in 35 matches.
Forrest Clancy came into his own in 2014, finishing the season with three goals and six assists from the midfield. He ranked seventh in the Ivy League in total points, and partnered with Neumann gives the Quakers two of the three top returning scorers in the Ancient Eight.
Duke Lacroix, 2013 Ivy League Player of the Year and a four-time All-Ivy selection has graduated to professional soccer. He leaves a sizeable legacy for Penn Soccer and a chunk of minutes for someone to step in and play off Neumann. Jerel Blades is the lone newcomer listed as a forward, and can be expected to have a chance to develop chemistry with Neumann. Other candidates to move to the forward position include Clancy and freshman Gideon Metrikin.
In the back end, Luka Martinovic and Sam Wancowicz each saw regular starting minutes defensively as freshmen last season. Each averaged over 80+ minutes-per-game as rookies and will be counted on to serve as the rocks of the defense with the graduation of Jason deFaria and Kamar Saint-Louis.
Penn has brought in the No. 12 ranked recruiting class in the country according to CollegeSoccerNews.com, a group consisting of four defenders, two midfielders, two backs and Blades as the lone forward. In addition, the Quakers have added a sophomore transfer in Joe Swenson who comes to Penn after spending last season on the Connecticut roster. The newcomers constitute almost 50% of the Penn roster, affording ample opportunity for playing time right away to the newcomers.
Penn is 0-1 all-time against Washington, the lone match a 3-1 loss for the Quakers in Seattle last season … The Huskies are unbeaten and unscored upon in the young season, posting wins over Gonzaga (1-0) and UC-Davis (3-0) in Seattle … Four different goal scorers have found the back of the net for the Huskies through two games, including Josh Heard who had seven goals last season and has 13 for his career … Washington is looking to replace standout scorer Darwin Jones and defensive stalwart Andy Thomas who each graduated and were selected in the MLS SuperDraft … In goal, Ryan Herman returns to the starting spot after leading the Huskies to the Elite Eight in 2013 … His two shutouts this season give him 10 for his career and have him holding an 18-2-3 career record … Washington head coach Jamie Clark was head coach at Harvard from 2008-09, and went 1-1 against Penn while head coach of the Crimson … His lone match at Rhodes Field was a 1-0 overtime loss for the Crimson in 2008 – a game which clinched an Ivy title for the Quakers.
Scouting American …
Penn is 4-7 all-time against American … Last year, Penn fell to the Eagles, 2-1, at Rhodes Field in a game decided in the 88’ by an American score … American is 2-0-0 this season entering a game Thursday night against Howard, winning twice against D.C. neighbors George Washington (2-1) and George Mason (3-1) last weekend … Five different players have scored for American this season, including Joe Irola who has nine career goals … Liam Robley, a preseason All-Patriot League selection who was first-team All-Patriot League and second-team All-Region last season, has a goal and an assist this year … American went 11-4-4 last season and returns seven starters from that squad … Dylan Hobert was 10-3-2 in goal last season and has won both contests this season.