Panthers open season Saturday at home
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's soccer team will have home-field advantage for its first game of the season this Saturday when the Panthers host Nichols College at 4:30 p.m. at Panther Field.
The game against Nichols is the first of four home games in September. After a pair of road matches at Salem State University and Bridgewater State University, PSU will host Tufts University on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 6:00 p.m. The first Little East Conference match-up of the season is on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
|Head Coach Rob Wright|
Led by 10th-year head coach Rob Wright, PSU looks to rebound from 5-11-1 season. The Panthers have 13 returning veterans from last year, including an All-Conference performer. PSU will be aiming to return to the LEC Tournament after missing out the past two seasons.
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.
2011 PSU Men's Soccer Outlook
The Panthers have a smaller team than usual, with less than 20 players on the roster, but Coach Wright says that has been good for the squad in the preseason.
"In the past we had more players vying for spots on the team," said Wright, "and the competition was so tough that we were constantly having guys get hurt. This year we brought in fewer players, and we've been able to use the preseason as the training tool it's supposed to be. We've had a much more successful preseason and made it through without significant injuries."
Coach Wright says the team should be solid from the back through the midfield, with some questions marks up front. "We'll be looking for guys on the squad to step up and be the guy to put the ball in the back of the net."
The Panthers have seven returning starters and several others who have seen significant playing time. Coach Wright says the strength of the team is down the middle, led by the three co-captains -- senior Dre Cabral and juniors Joakim Martinsson and Parker Spear. Cabral is a two-time All-Conference performer and can dominate no matter what position he plays. Martinsson will likely anchor the defense while Spear will be the key to the midfield.
"Our captains are such a strong group of individuals," said Wright. "They're strong mentally and physically, and excellent leaders of our team. They'll all play somewhere down the middle of the field."
Another key player for the Panthers should be junior goalkeeper Bjorn Ohlsson, who will be a third-year starter. He's fully recovered from the injury that ended his 2009 season and is primed for a big year. Sophomore Joe Drapeau is also available and capable of handling the job.
Joining Martinsson and possibly Cabral along the back line for PSU should be senior KC Haywood and junior Matt Anderson. Senior Alex Martins is also back and should find himself in the starting line-up in some role. Returning candidates for playing time on offense include Cabral, sophomores Jake Sjoberg and David Quist, and junior Aly El Tambouly. The top newcomers look like freshman Joss Knol and sophomore Christian Bua.
"We have a smaller group of guys this year," said Wright, "but these guys can all play. We're good enough to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. If we can keep everyone healthy and get a little luck, we'll be able to be competitive and play with anyone on our schedule."
-- 30 --