Panthers open season at ECAC Fall Classic
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's soccer team will be in tournament action on Cape Cod this weekend when the 2012 season officially gets underway.
The Panthers have played in a dozen Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) post-season tournaments, so it was a natural fit for PSU to compete in the first ECAC Division III Fall Classic, a season-opening event hosted by the ECAC at Homer Park in South Yarmouth, Mass.
|Head Coach Rob Wright|
The inaugural tourney includes men's teams from Colby-Sawyer College, John Jay College and Plymouth State in a round-robin format; and on the women's side, Bridgewater State University, Daniel Webster College, Norwich University and SUNY Purchase in a championship-style format. The PSU men will meet Colby-Sawyer Friday in a 2:00 p.m. kick-off, and will then take on John Jay on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Plymouth State will then play four of its next five matches on home turf at Panther Field, beginning with non-conference games on Wednesday, Sept. 5, and Friday, Sept. 7, against Salem State University and Bridgewater State University, respectively. The first Little East Conference match-up of the season is at home on Saturday, Sept. 15, against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Led by 11th-year head coach Rob Wright, PSU returns 13 veterans to the squad and welcomes 10 talented newcomers who hope to make an impact. PSU will be aiming to return to the LEC Tournament after missing out the past three 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.
2012 PSU Men's Soccer Outlook
The Panthers have a good mix of upperclassmen and newcomers, according to Coach Wright, including six seniors. The coach says the team is already coming together, and unlike recent seasons, health hasn't been an issue.
"Every single one has come in fit and with a great attitude," said Wright. "The energy is really good, and there's a dynamic, aggressive style to the team."
The Panthers will look to the six seniors to lead the way. They include midfielder Parker Spear (Sodus Point, N.Y./Sodus Central), center back Joakim Martinsson (Morlunda, Sweden), goalkeeper Bjorn Ohlsson (Halmstad, Sweden), defender Matt Anderson (Shaker Heights, Ohio), forward Aly El Tambouly (Cairo, Egypt), and midfielder Alex Garneau (Twin Mountain, N.H./Tilton School).
"The seniors are a talented group," said Wright. "They've never played in the LEC Tournament so they're really motivated to have a big season. They're working extremely hard and are ready to lead, and it's working out because we have a large group of newcomers who are ready to be led."
Spear is the centerpiece for PSU, a returning All-Conference player who should continue as one of the top center midfielders in the LEC; Martinsson has been a four-year starter at center defender, while Ohlsson has battled back from a serious injury and could be one of the top keepers in the Little East; Anderson has been a dependable defender who could move up to midfield; El Tambouly is looking to break out after scoring two goals in the last two games last year; and Garneau returns after a two-year absence.
Other top returning players in the midfield or defense for the Panthers, according to Wright, include junior Christian Bua (Gilford, N.H.), sophomore Felderson Thelusma (Somersworth, N.H.), and junior Santi Aguilar (Lima, Peru). Key Panther veterans who will look to contribute on offense include junior Jacob Sjoberg (Linkoping, Sweden) and Bryan Bellio (Rochester, N.H./Spaulding) and sophomore Joss Knol (Wellington, New Zealand).
Junior transfer Adam Groves (Brooksville, Maine/George Stevens Academy) has made the biggest impact among the newcomers and gives PSU another solid defender. Freshmen midfielder Ted Karlstrand (Halmstad, Sweden) and forwards Petro Masumbuko (Manchester, N.H./Central), Conor Noe (Rochester, N.H./Spaulding) and Alex Herbert (Lexington, Mass.) have also been impressive in preseason, according to the coach.
"The Little East is very competitive in men's soccer," said Wright. "We were only a goal here or a goal there away from contending for a tournament berth heading into the final weekend. If the guys continue to play well and stay healthy, we can absolutely be in that final four this year. We have a tough non-conference schedule that will prepare us for the LEC."
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