The Hiram College men’s soccer team recorded its best season in 11 years in 2007 and will look to keep the momentum going this fall.
A year ago, the Terriers posted an 11-4-3 overall record, their best team performance since the 1996 season, and tied the school record for most shutout victories in a season with 10. Hiram also recorded a 3-4-2 record in North Coast Athletic Conference play ending the season tied for sixth.
“We had a great season last fall,” said fifth-year Head Coach Carl Capellas. “We got off to a great start and played strong throughout the season. Last season our best asset was our team chemistry. We will again look for that to be the foundation of this year’s team.”
Hiram returns the majority of its players and starters from a year ago having lost just four players to graduation. The Terriers will have 25 lettermen and nine starters back in 2008 giving Hiram a host of experience that should pay dividends.
Capellas’ squad will be dominated by veterans led by a tandem of nine seniors in goalkeepers Dan Dempsey (Howell, Mich./Howell), Nate Rausch (Cuyahoga Falls), forward Nathan Mang (Niles/McKinley), midfielders Kelsey Resnick (Hudson), James Ewers (Kent Roosevelt), Allen Jenkins (North Royalton) and defensemen Trevor Gibbs (Georgetown, Cayman Islands/Hotchkiss School), Conor Faloon (East Liverpool) and Ryan VanDerSchaegen (Columbia, S.C./Crestwood).
“We’re lucky to have such a large amount of veterans, including nine seniors, on our team that have seen significant amount of playing time,” said Capellas. “They understand how to play the game and will also be critical in helping our freshmen and newcomers adapt. ”
On offense, look for junior two-time first-team All-NCAC midfielder David Krems (Lakewood) to lead the way. Last season, Krems led the team and was tied for third in the NCAC in goals with 10, including five game-winners. He also added two assists for a total of 22 points, which was the fourth most in the conference. Since becoming the first Hiram men’s soccer player to earn first-team All-NCAC accolades in 2006, he added his second first-team selection last fall becoming the first player to earn the award twice. He was also tabbed as third-team All-Ohio.
Joining Krems will be juniors Matt Urban (Hudson), Nick Gdanetz (McKeen, Pa./Erie Cathedral Prep) and sophomore Cole Miller (Berlin/Hiland). Urban tallied four goals, including two goals scored on penalty kicks, and an assist for nine points. Gdanetz marked an All-NCAC and All-Ohio season by scoring two goals and a team-tying high six assists for 10 points, which was the third highest point total on the team, while Miller ended his “rookie” season second on the team in goals (seven) and points (14). Look for Jamie Ganner (Eastlake/North) and Pat Dittoe (Hudson) to contribute. Ganner had a solid sophomore season tallying a team-tying high six assists and a goal for eight points. Dittoe also found the back of the net from the wing with a pair of goals and two assists for six points. Also on offense, look for midfielders Ryan Stuver (Twinsburg) and Sean Gerin (Warren/Howland) to see significant playing time this season.
“Our style of offensive success is a result of hard work and awareness. We also have a few players with some creativity and inventiveness that add some flair,” said Capellas. “We have some players up front with good scoring instincts, and look for them to build on their success last year.”
The Terrier defense will be led by a group of returning starters in Resnick, Trevor Gibbs (Georgetown, Cayman Islands/Hotchkiss School), David Mason (Akron/Archbishop Hoban) and Philip Major (Walnut Creek/Berlin Hiland). A year ago, the Hiram defense held its opponents to 14 goals scored (0.75 goals against per game) and tally a record-tying 10 shutout victories.
Resnick returns for his fourth season following a two goal and two assist performance as a junior, and earned All-NCAC honors for the second time in his career. Resnick also excels in the classroom as a two-time Academic All-Ohio and NCAC Scholar-Athlete award winner. Mason had a break-out season as a top defender in the league and was selected second-team All-NCAC. Major followed up his strong freshman year by earning honorable mention All-Conference accolades scoring three goals, including a game-winner.
“Our team’s success will always start with our defense,” stated Capellas. Our returning players know each other well and understand the importance of working as a unit. Our guys understand the history of strong defenders here and take pride and continuing that tradition.”
In goal, look for senior Nate Rausch to see the majority of the playing time. Rausch, who has been the starting goalkeeper since his freshman season, had another standout season in 2007 seeing action in 15 games and had a 7-2-2 record with four shutout victories. He allowed just nine goals for the season and his impressive 0.73 goals against average was amongst the best in the conference. His .868 save percentage ranked second in the NCAC. In over 1100 minutes, Rausch tallied 59 saves.
Joe Tatum (Georgetown, Cayman Islands/St. George’s School) was the number two goalie last season as a freshman. Tatum, who missed part of the season while playing with the Cayman Island Olympic team, ended the season with a 2-2-1 record, including a shutout victory, and had a 0.95 goals against average. In 380 minutes, Tatum tallied 16 saves, allowing just four goals, for an .800 save percentage.
“We are lucky to have a group of goalkeepers with game experience who all have the ability to step in and do the job,” Capellas said, “They push each other to excel and are each others biggest supporters.”
Other players that should see significant playing time in 2008 include senior defenseman Conor Faloon (East Liverpool) and sophomore defender Jon Rice (Toledo/Sylvania Southview).
Both Faloon and Rice provided depth at defender coming off the bench and playing in 11 and 10 games respectively.
“We’ll have more depth this season,” said Capellas. “It’ll be a big advantage to bring quality players off the bench that have the ability to step in and get the job done when the opportunity is there.”
Hiram will welcome a significant number of new faces to the program as several newcomers will be joining the team heading into camp this fall.
“We’ve added a good group of new players to the mix for the upcoming season,” said Capellas. “We expect some to make an immediate impact for us and see some significant playing time.”
The Terriers will open the 2008 season on Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 30-31, at the Case Classic in University Circle. Hiram will play against Bethany (W.Va.) College in the season-opener on Friday at 5 p.m. followed by a matchup against St. Vincent (Pa.) College on Sunday at 3 p.m.