Men's Soccer Strives for Ivy League Supremacy in 2003

All-American Matt Haefner will lead the Quakers in their Ivy League title defense.

Aug. 21, 2003

A talented and determined University of Pennsylvania men's soccer team is poised and ready to defend it's Ivy League title when the 2003 campaign opens. The 2002 Ivy League champions only lost one starter to graduation and are returning a strong nucleus. This year's roster includes Ivy League Player of the Year and All-American senior Matt Haefner in goal, the PS7 Freshman of the Year sophomore John Rhodes and All-Mid-Atlantic Region Team honorees juniors Erik Hallenbeck and Stephen Kroculick.

Head Coach Rudy Fuller will also welcome six newcomers. These players could battle for time in the starting lineup and push the veterans to new heights as the Quakers prepare to defend their Ivy League title.

"Our coaches and players are eager to tackle the challenges that lie ahead for us. We are a different team this year and everyone associated with our program is looking to achieve the highest level of success possible. We have set our sights on becoming a better team, defending our Ivy League title, and continuing to position ourselves as one of the premier programs in the country," Fuller said.

Starting in net for the second-consecutive season is Haefner. Last year, he was named the program's first All-American since 1984 after being selected NSCAA/adidas (third-team) and College Soccer News (honorable mention). Haefner was also tabbed Penn's first-ever Ivy League Player of the Year. His amazing year in goal was punctuated by several records, including lowest GAA in a single season (0.45), shutouts in a single season (10), save percentage in a single season (.923) and minutes played in a season (1,598). Haefner was also tabbed first-team All-Ivy League, first-team NSCAA/adidas All-Mid-Atlantic Region and a PS7 All-Star. In addition, he was the recipient of Penn men's soccer's Arthur Binns Most Improved Player and the David Gould Most Valuable Player awards.

"Matt established himself as one of the top goalkeepers in the country last year, but he is well aware that he has only scratched the surface of his potential. He has matured tremendously and has become very professional in his approach to the game. He is determined to continue improving in the years ahead," Fuller noted.

Pushing Haefner for time between the pipes this year will be sophomore Bert Lockwood and freshman Garrett Herfkens. Although Lockwood didn't see playing time on the field in 2002, he helped keep Haefner sharp. His hard work coupled with his potential provided the coaching staff with a valuable backup that one day should challenge for the starting role. Herfkens helped lead his Gunn High School team to the Central Coast Division Championship in 2001 and 2003 and was named Goalkeeper of the Year and All-Mercury News in 2001 and 2003. Herfkens was also named Gunn Athlete of the Year in 2001.

"Our coaches and players are eager to tackle the challenges that lie ahead for us. We are a different team this year and everyone associated with our program is looking to achieve the highest level of success possible. We have set our sights on becoming a better team, defending our Ivy League title, and continuing to position ourselves as one of the premier programs in the country."
Head Men's Soccer Coach Rudy Fuller

With the graduation of All-Ivy captain Nathan Kennedy, the Quakers' backline will look to a number of players to step up to serve in a leadership role. Penn's stingy defense allowed only seven goals during 15 games in 2002.

Hallenbeck, who joined the Red and Blue in the spring of 2002 as a walk-on, made an immediate impact on the program. In his first collegiate season, he started all 17 games, recorded one assist and was tabbed the team's co-Defensive Player of the Year. Hallenbeck was also named second-team NSCAA/adidas All-Mid-Atlantic Region and was a first-team All-Ivy selection.

"Erik is an all-around winner. He is driven, committed and talented. He improved with every game last year and we will need him to continue that trend this year. After coming out of nowhere to surprise people last season, we will look to him to take on a more prominent leadership role within our team this year. I am confident that he is ready for it," Fuller said.

Joining Hallenbeck in the backfield will be senior Nick Severini, junior Brian Candler, sophomores Erik Violante and Justin Estrada, and newcomer Andy Howard. Severini, a converted midfielder who served as a reserve in the central defense last year, and Candler, who started every game two years ago as a freshman, will provide the coaching staff with valuable experience as reserves. Violante, who recorded Penn's game-winning goal in overtime against Seton Hall in the First Round of the NCAA College Cup at Rhodes Field in 2002, finished the season with two goals and picked up one assist in 17 starts. Estrada started and gained valuable experience as a freshman and the coaching staff will look for him and Violante to step up and make more of an impact on this year's squad as sophomores. Howard, who captained his Westside Metro club team to the Oregon state title last spring and has been a standout performer in the Oregon Olympic Development program, is expected to contribute to the team's success in his first season.

"Our backline was one of our strengths last season and I expect this year's group to continue the success we experienced defensively a year ago. Hallenbeck was one of the best defenders in our region last season, and Violante and Estrada were extremely effective as outside backs. I am confident that the three of them will step up to fill the void left by Nathan Kennedy," remarked Fuller.

This position will again be one of the strongest for the Red and Blue. The depth of talent will allow the coaching staff tremendous flexibility for a number of combinations in the midfield this season. Holding down the center of the field will be Rhodes, senior Louie Lazar, juniors Josh Duyan, Brandon Harwood and Matthew Waddell, sophomores Jon Abelson and Andrew Fenwick, and newcomers Arthur Bartholomew, Charles Snyder and Ryan Tracy.

Rhodes, who started all but one game in 2002, received several postseason accolades including being named third-team NSCAA/adidas All-Mid-Atlantic Region, honorable mention All-Ivy, a PS7 All-Star and PS7 Freshman of the Year. In addition, he was named Penn soccer's Charles R. Scott Freshman of the Year. He was tied for second on the team in points with eight after scoring three goals and recording three assists and was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week after scoring the Quakers' winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Columbia on Oct. 19.

"John was truly a special player at times last season. He has been working hard to become a more consistent performer over the course of a game and throughout a season. When he is fit and consistent, he is one of the best two-way players you will find anywhere," Fuller said.

Lazar has played in 36 games in his career at Penn and continues to show unending determination and talent.

"Louie is the most technically gifted and hardest working player on our team. He has played an integral role in our program's development over the past three years and in our success last year. The example he sets both on and off the field is invaluable to our team," Fuller noted.

All-Ivy selection Stephen Kroculick will help lead the midfield in 2003.

Abelson made 15 starts and recorded two assists, while Duyan played in all 17 games, making 15 starts, and was the team's leader in assists with five. Duyan also tallied the gamewinner against Dartmouth on Oct. 5 for his first collegiate goal. Waddell played in six games last season and will be looking to take on a larger role this year. Fenwick and Harwood spent last year with the Penn reserve team and were promoted after their strong spring campaigns.

"Our midfield was a bit of a revelation for us last season. We had four new, relatively inexperienced starters and they complemented each other well. In order for us to continue our success and reach the goals we've set this year, we will need to get a more consistent contribution in the attack from our midfield," remarked Fuller.

The three newcomers to the midfield will battle for playing time as each brings with him tremendous experience from high school and ODP play. Bartholomew transferred to Penn from the University of Washington, where he made four appearances and recorded one goal for the Huskies. Snyder, whose speed and agility will make him a dangerous threat from the midfield, comes from California where was named MVP three consecutive years at La Jolla High School and was selected the Western League Player of the Year. Tracy led his team to two consecutive conference championships, the 2002 Connecticut state championship game, and a No. 2 national ranking by the NSCAA.

"With the addition of these three players, the competition within our midfield group will be fierce. The depth of this midfield group and the competition it produces will make our team significantly better and should allow us to better cope with any injuries or dips in form that occur over the course of the year," Fuller said.

The front line will be headed by a group of fierce competitors who combined to make a lethal unit last year. Alongside Kroculick will be junior David Maier, junior Joe Klein, sophomore Richard Brushett, and newcomer Derrick Jumper.

Penn men's soccer's Offensive Player of the Year, Kroculick will lead the attack for the Quakers again in 2003. He finished the season tied for the team lead in goals with four, including three gamewinners, and was tied for second on the team in points with eight. Kroculick was also named third-team NSCAA/adidas All-Mid-Atlantic, second-team All-Ivy and was a PS7 All-Star.

"Last year was Steve's first as a striker in our program. After starting in the central midfield as a freshman, we moved him to the forward line during preseason. He garnered a lot of attention and accolades, but never really settled in and didn't really have a good understanding of what the position entailed. Towards the very end of the fall and throughout our spring, he began feeling comfortable up top. As dangerous as people thought he was last year, we expect him to be much more of a threat in the attack for us this year," Fuller said.

Maier, also a PS7 All-Star, had an outstanding season for the Red and Blue, as he led the team in scoring with four goals and three assists for 11 points.

"Despite finishing as our leading scorer last season, David has yet to really put his mark on our program. After having to sit out his freshman season with a stress fracture, he played a significant amount last season, but was never able to find a consistent rhythm. He is an exceptionally gifted soccer player who, like Kroculick, should be even more dangerous in the attack this year," Fuller remarked.

Brushett, whose height and speed made him a great threat to opponents, appeared in all 17 games during his freshman campaign and scored one goal, while Klein played in 14 games with three starts.

"Richard and Joe are both quality forwards, but for different reasons. Richard is a tremendous athlete with outstanding speed and Joe is a lethal finisher. Both were pushing to get into the starting lineup as reserves last season and ended up seeing action in a majority of our games. I expect both of them to be in the mix again this year, but only time will tell what role they will play," Fuller noted.

Jumper will look to be as much of a standout at Penn as he was in his native Texas, where he was the first athlete from his high school to be named All-North Texas after scoring 40 goals in his senior year.

The combination of seasoned veterans and experienced newcomers should be the right mix to help the University of Pennsylvania men's soccer team claim its second consecutive Ivy League title, a feat not accomplished since the 1971 and 1972 seasons.

"There is a certain excitement surrounding Penn soccer and there is a good reason for it. The players and coaches associated with our program are determined to take Penn soccer to new heights. We want to accomplish things that have never been done here at Penn and that is quite a challenge considering some of the teams that have donned the Red and Blue. We set high goals for ourselves because we are willing and committed to do what is necessary and are confident in our ability to achieve them," Fuller said.