HIRAM, OHIO — The Hiram College men’s soccer team will look to rebound from a 6-12 overall record in 2010 and a sixth-place finish in the North Coast Athletic Conference with a strong group of returning players in 2011. The Terriers will have 18 letterwinners on this season’s squad in addition to four returning starters.
“We had a pretty up-and-down season last year,” said eighth-year Head Coach Carl Capellas. “We posted some wins against some strong opponents, but also fell short in some games that we probably should have won.”
The Hiram offense will be without All-Ohio and three-time All-NCAC forward Petar Knezevic who graduated last spring. Knezevic was the Terrier’s most prolific scorer last season with a team-best seven goals to go along with two assists for a team-high 16 points. In 55 career games, Knezevic scored 27 goals and nine assists for 63 points. His 27 goals rank fourth most in program history and his 63 points are fifth most. In addition, Knezevic took 130 shots which are the fifth most in Hiram history.
This fall, Hiram will look to junior All-NCAC forward Ryan Minick (North Royalton) and junior All-NCAC midfielder Ryan Greenhill (Solon) to lead the Terrier offensive attack. Last season, Minick was second on the team in goals with three, while Greenhill added a goal and two assists. Also looking to make an impact this season up front at his midfielder/forward position is junior Kevin Haramis (Norton). Haramis led all returning players in scoring last season with two goals and a team-leading three assists for seven points. In addition, expect junior forwards Taylor Kiefer (North Canton/Hoover) and transfer Austin Cook (St. Vincent St. Mary/Cincinnati) to compete for playing time this fall. Kiefer had a solid season last year scoring a goal and two assists in 11 games.
Joining Greenhill and Haramis at the midfielder position will be sophomores Andy Harding (Bath/Revere), Manolo Angel (Mexico City, Mexico), and Varun Dubey (Mumbai, India). Harding played a significant role for Hiram as a freshman playing in all 18 games and starting 14 while finishing in a tie for third on the team in goals scored with two, in addition to an assist, for five points.
“We will have talented players returning for us as forwards and midfielders,” said Capellas. We will need them to have strong seasons offensively if we are going to be able to make a run at a spot in the NCAC Tourmament in November.”
On defense, Hiram will be without some key players from a year ago, but will be led this year by senior veterans Jonathan Roszak (Medina) and Tyler Launder (Whitehouse/Anthony Wayne). In 2010, the Hiram defense allowed 2.15 goals per game while helping the team post two shutout victories. Individually, Roszak saw playing time in 17 games, including nine starts, while scoring an assist for his only point of the season. Launder saw limited action as a junior in five games in a backup role. Look for him to compete for more playing time this season. In addition to Roszak and Launder, junior Daniel O’Callaghan (Aberdare, Wales, United Kingdom), and sophomores Benji Cupid (West Bay, Cayman Islands), Travis McLean (Georgetown, Cayman Islands), and Brian Zilla (Canton/Jackson) could all see an increased role on the field this season.
“Our defense will have to be strong for us this season,” stated Capellas. “We have a few returning players with experience that will anchor our defense, but we will need some of our newcomers and other returning players to play some positive minutes this year.”
At goalkeeper, Hiram will look to replace its starting goalkeeper in All-NCAC graduated senior Joe Tatum. The lone returning netminder from last year’s team will be junior Joe Rottinger (Strongsville). Rottinger was the number two goalie last fall and played in five games with a 2.07 goals against average and a 2-2 record, including one shutout. He also tallied 14 saves and had a 60.9 save percentage.
“Joe had a positive season as a backup goaltender last year and is our top choice for our number 1 spot this fal,” said Capellas. “How well our defense plays will begin with him and we look for him to have a strong season in 2011.”
The 2011 schedule will again feature some tough opponents including a matchup against defending NCAA Division III National Champion Messiah (Pa.) College in Hiram’s second game of the season on Sept. 3. The Terriers will also face two other teams who qualified to last year’s national tournament in NCAC opponents Ohio Wesleyan University and Kenyon College. Hiram will begin the season at the two-day Ohio Wesleyan Tournament from Friday-Saturday, Sept. 2-3 with a matchup against Hamline (Minn.) University in the season-opener on Sept. 2. The Terriers will play their first home game on Sept. 12 against Waynesburg (Pa.) College and open conference play on Sept. 24 against conference newcomer DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind.
“This season will be a challenging year for us on the field,” said Capellas. “We are going to play against some tough opponents and it will be a great challenge for the guys. But with the players we have coming back and the ones we’ve added to the program, I am excited to see what we can become.”