2013 William Penn Men’s Soccer Preview
2012 record: 8-11-1 (2-4 MCC, 6th)
Starters returning/lost: 7/4
Letterwinners returning/lost: 15/8
Mason Bandy Jr. Calgary, Alberta
(1.69 Goals Against Average, 97 saves, 4 shutouts)
Angelo Kelly So. Ottumwa, Iowa
(4 goals, 3 assists)
Mark Dryden Jr. Arbroath, Scotland
(3 goals, 2 assists)
Ben Creeger So. Phoenix, Ariz.
Cem Olgar Fr. Duesseldorf, Germany
Facundo Manzanares Fr. Cordoba, Argentina
Milo Bruce-Burgess Jr. Brockenhurst, England
Varying playing styles will be merged this fall as the Statesmen men’s soccer team hits the pitch in search of heightened success in 2013.
William Penn, 8-11-1 (2-4 Midwest Collegiate Conference) a year ago, reached the tournament semifinals for the first time since 2006, but is looking for more this fall with Interim Head Coach Raphael Martinez recently taking the reins. Martinez has moved up the coaching ladder after being a graduate assistant last year.
“Despite reaching the semifinals, we still came up short of our goals in 2012,” Martinez said. “We knew we had to make some changes and improve in certain areas and I think we accomplished that with a solid recruiting class.”
Being Martinez was already on the staff, his players fortunately did not need to make many adjustments.
“We have gotten to work right away this preseason and everyone is dedicated to our goals,” Martinez said. “Our returners have stepped up as leaders and the new guys are learning from their examples. That has been huge.”
Honorable-mention all-Midwest Collegiate Conference goalkeeper Mason Bandy (Jr., Calgary, Alberta, Biology) is back to guide the defense from between the posts, and he has a load of other returning talent in front of him.
While recruiting went well for WPU, it also brought about its own challenges as a large group of new players come from foreign countries so language and differing playing barriers will have to be overcome.
Case in point: Milo Bruce-Burgess (Jr., Brockenhurst, England, Physical Education), Cem Olgar (Fr., Duesseldorf, Germany, Industrial Technology), and Facundo Manzanares (Fr., Cordoba, Argentina, Business Management), three of the top recruits for the navy and gold, are all from different countries.
“We knew it would be a challenge bringing in so many foreign players, but a challenge we were excited for,” Martinez said. “The guys fortunately have worked awesome together and have been great teammates from the beginning.”
Angelo Kelly (So., Ottumwa, Iowa, Physical Education) is WPU’s top returning goal scorer with just four in 2012, but he will have plenty of help in getting the Statesmen offense going this time around. Kelly also assisted on three scores.
Francis Koroma (Fr., Brooklyn Park, Minn., General Accounting) leads a trio of newcomers that Martinez is especially high on. Jean-Claude Ninganza (Jr., Memphis, Tenn., Sociology) and Mariano Louit (Fr., Pehuajo, Argentina, Business Management) also bring their skills to the pitch.
“Our forwards are all hard workers with great quickness,” Martinez said. “We hope that they can finish the chances they are given and get us on the board.”
Dryden’s presence is an integral one for William Penn as he returns after scoring three goals with two assists last season.
“Mark has gained invaluable experience over the past two years and has all the skills to be a very good player,” Martinez said. “He is a true box-to-box midfielder who plays with great passion and a desire to win.”
Fellow returners Matheus Riberio (So., Vitoria, Brazil, Biology), with two goals and three assists in 2012, and Leonardo Teixeira (Sr., Sao Paolo, Brazil, Business Management), with one goal and one assist, also have shown past prowess on the offensive end.
“Leonardo is an offensive asset for us with his great creativity and play-making ability,” Martinez said.
Newcomers Manzanares and Thadeu Rocha (Fr., Manaus, Brazil, Business Management) give the navy and gold even more skill in the middle.
The last line of defense in the field should be a competent and deep one with returners Ben Creeger (So., Phoenix, Ariz., Business Management), Brendan Johnson (Sr., Clinton, Iowa, Physical Education), Luis Islas (Sr., Boise, Idaho, History/Government), and Austin Ryan (Jr., Parkersburg, Iowa, Business Management) mixing it up with a handful of their new comrades for a stiff back line.
Johnson assisted on one goal in 2012.
“Everyone has been working very hard and very well together, but Ben and Brendan have taken that to a new level,” Martinez said. “They have a good understanding of each other’s style. Their trust of each other is very strong.”
In addition to Bruce-Burgess, Peter Wood (Jr., Chicago, Ill., Physical Education), Bruno Vencovsky (Fr., Sao Paolo, Brazil, Industrial Technology), and David Nega (Jr., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Business Management) are new faces that Martinez has cited as being top producers in camp.
With Bandy back between the pipes, Martinez is confident that the number of goals his squad will allow will be very low. The junior was 8-11-1 last year with four shutouts. He posted an impressive 1.69 Goals Against Average with 97 stops.
“Mason proved himself last year by being an all-conference performer,” Martinez said. “He has great experience and brings great quality to the team.”
Not far behind him will be newcomer Pedro Pereira (Fr., Sao Paolo, Brazil, Communications).
“Although he is just a freshman, Pedro has quickly proven he will be a reliable and quality backup for Mason,” Martinez said.
William Penn plays its first four games of 2013 on the road against squads from four different leagues in a non-conference slate that Martinez hopes will prepare his team for its MCC showdowns. In the end, exactly half of WPU’s 18 games will be contested in Oskaloosa, including the final three.
“Playing teams like Avila, Friends, Midland, and Bellevue will be great tests and show us if we are ready for conference play,” Martinez said.
Grand View is a unanimous pick to defend its league crown, but Martinez feels like his Statesmen bunch is right there in the mix in a wide-open MCC.
“We have four of our six conference games at home this year, so if we can take care of our home turf, we should put ourselves in a good position for the conference tourney,” Martinez said. “You never want to just highlight one game as they are all important, but last year’s late loss to Clarke is one we really want to avenge. We will be more than up for that game.”
“We are really looking forward to proving ourselves this fall,” Martinez added. “We are going to step out onto the field not just looking to compete well, but to win. We expect to work hard and dedicate ourselves to the cause and make for a memorable season.”