PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University men's soccer team will kick off the 2009 season this weekend with a trip to Bristol, Rhode Island, for the Roger Williams Turfer Classic.
The Panthers will meet Ithaca College on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., following the Roger Williams-Fitchburg State contest that starts at 12 noon. The consolation game of the tournament is Sunday at 11:00 a.m., followed by the championship match at 1:30 p.m.
Plymouth State will play just one home match in the month of September, on Wednesday the 23rd against Bates College at Panther Field. The first Little East Conference match-up of the season is on Saturday, Sept. 19, against rival Keene State College.
Led by eighth-year head coach Rob Wright (right) PSU is looking to get back into post-season contention this year after a couple of mediocre seasons. The Panthers came up just short of making the NCAA Tournament last fall, posting upset victories in quarterfinal and semifinal matches of the LEC Tournament before dropping a 1-0 decision to Rhode Island College in the championship game. PSU also made four straight ECAC post-season appearances from 2003-06.
The Panthers play a 17-game regular season schedule, including seven Little East contests. The annual LEC Tournament is on tap for the first week of November, with the champion receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Plymouth State has won or shared a record nine LEC men's soccer regular season titles ('89, '93, '96, '97, '98, '99, '00, '03, and '06) but has won the LEC Tournament just once ('00) since the tourney began in 1999.
2009 PSU Men's Soccer Outlook
Coach Wright welcomes back 15 veterans from last year along with a dozen newcomers, many of whom could make an impact this season.
"We have a fantastic incoming class," said Wright, "not just in soccer ability but guys with size and experience. Several of our guys are older, and we have several international kids who will be great assets to the program."
The Panthers have six returning starters in camp and six others who saw significant action. Coach Wright also expects several of the newcomers to take over starting roles.
"We have the potential to be strong at every position," said Wright. "We could have some of the top players in the conference, if they reach their potential and come together as a group."
Leading the returnees is senior forward Semir Mehmedovic (Zvornik, Bosnia/Franklin, N.H.), who was First Team All-Conference and Fourth Team All-New England a year ago. He led the team and ranked second in the conference with 13 goals and 36 points last year, and topped the LEC with 10 assists. Semir is also moving up on PSU's career scoring lists, ranking sixth in goals and fifth in assists and points and looking to climb even higher.
Sophomore Dimitrios Kapotis (Woodsville, N.H./Woodsville/Tilton) also returns to the Panther front line. He had a solid rookie season as the top freshman scorer in the LEC with eight goals. Freshman Aly El Tambouly (Cairo, Egypt) is an exciting prospect that could be a factor, as well as Eric Owens (Newton, N.H./Sanborn Regional), who returns after a year off.
Sophomore co-captain Dre Cabral (Tokyo, Japan) anchors the midfield for the Panthers. He notched six goals and was the second-leading rookie scorer in the LEC last season, and gives PSU size and a presence in the midfield, according to Wright. Juniors Stefan Welch (Tokyo, Japan/Yakota) and Tommy Schrey (Munich, Germany/Alvirne, N.H.) will both see playing time, and junior transfers Corey Laycock (Sandown, N.H./Timberlane), from Saint Anselm College, and Tak Umetsu (Yokohama, Japan), from Shasta Community College (Calif.), could also contribute. Parker Spear (Sodus Point, N.Y./Sodus Central) is a top freshman candidate who is pushing for a starting role at center midfield.
Wright said several other veterans are looking sharp this fall and could be factors, including juniors Greg Blanchette (Bow, N.H./Bow) and Alex Ciccolinifoley (York, Maine/York) and sophomores Michael Lemien (Center Harbor, N.H./Moultonborough Academy), Alex Garneau (Twin Mountain, N.H./White Mountains Regional), and Alex Martins (Pawcatuck, Conn./Stonington).
Senior captain Tim Allan (Harleysville, Pa.) is a two-year starter on defense for the Panthers, and returns to hold down one of the positions this year. Sophomore K.C. Haywood (Lansdale, Pa.) looks like another starter, according to Wright, and freshman Joakim Martinsson (Morlunda, Sweden) is primed to take over at center back.
Depth is not a problem on defense, as Wright can also look to senior Amsal Alic (Sarajevo, Bosnia/Concord, N.H.), a transfer from New Hampshire Techical Institute; senior Drew McSpiritt (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry), juniors Cole Joy (Concord, N.H./Concord) and Ryan Joy (Concord, N.H./Concord), and freshman Matt Anderson (Shaker Heights, Ohio).
PSU will have a new goalkeeper, as freshman Bjorn Ohlsson (Halmstad, Sweden) takes over the starting job. He has good size and fitness, according to Wright, and has tremendous potential. Senior Dan Salzer (Dover, N.H./Oyster River) and junior Kevin Donohue (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) give the Panthers depth in goal.
"We had big hopes for 2008, but we didn't come together until the end of the year," said Wright. "We hope to make another run at an LEC Championship again this year. We have a lot of new faces and a lot of international kids, so everything may depend on how quickly we come together as a group."
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