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2011 Men’s Soccer Season Preview; Garnet Picked to Repeat in Preseason Poll

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August 26, 2011

With the return of nine starters from the 2010 squad, an All-American and possibly the top returning goalkeeper in the Conference, the pieces are certainly in place for the Swarthmore College men’s soccer team to make a run at a third Centennial Championship in four years and another deep run into the NCAA playoffs.

The big question surrounding the 2011 Garnet will be how to replace 2010 Centennial Conference Player of the Year and All-American Morgan Langley. In Langley’s final two seasons as a starting striker for the Garnet, Swarthmore boasted a  32-3-7 record,  which ranks as the second-fewest amount of losses in all of Division III over that span – trailing only defending champion Messiah.  Swarthmore will need to learn how to evolve without Langley (as his 14 goals and 14 assists in 2010 have moved on to the professional ranks) if they plan on repeating as Centennial Conference champions and advancing to the NCAA playoffs for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season.

Head Coach Eric Wagner – the second winningest coach in program history – enters his 10th season at the helm of the Garnet fielding a balanced side that has been picked to repeat as champions in the 2011 Centennial Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll.  But after recording a 21-2-4 record in the Centennial play over the past three seasons and earning the program’s first-ever No.1 ranking during the 2010 season, the Garnet will be challenged by an ever-growing target on the squad’s back as Centennial foes look to displace the Garnet on the Conference’s pinnacle.

The offense will surely miss the creativity and speed of Langley, but the Garnet return nearly every other piece of the high-powered offense which scored 48 goals in 2010. Leading the way will be forward Fabian Castro ’12, who had a career year in 2010, netting eight goals including the game-winner over DeSales in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Hidden behind Langley’s heroics was the breakout season of midfielder Kieran Reichert ’13, whose seven assists in 2010 rank as the third-most in a single season in program history. Along with Castro and Reichert, seniors David SterngoldRoberto Contreras, and Micah Rose should all make significant contributions across the field.

Rose, a 2010 NSCAA All-American and first-team All-Centennial selection, helped direct the creative offense from the midfield, while Sterngold (3 goals), Contreras (5 goals) and sophomore Jack Momeyer (3 goals) showed the ability to put the ball in the net last season and will be asked to pick up some of the scoring.

Defensively, Swarthmore returns three starters from the team that conceded just 12 goals all last season.  Though the leadership and composure of All-Centennial centerback Gage Newman ’11 will be sorely missed, Pierre Dyer ’12 and John Pontillo ’13 return to anchor the Garnet back which surrendered just .54 goals per game last season.  Also expected to see significant time in the back are Noah Sterngold ’14, Toby Heavenrich ’12, Arsean Maqami ’11, Jake Weiner ’14 and Cameron French ’14.  In net, goaltender David D’Annunzio ’12, with a career record of 33-5-4 and 21 shutouts, returns as the regular starter.

The Garnet open the season with the 14th Annual Garnet Alumni Classic before an early-season non-conference test (September 21) at perennial power Stevens Tech.  The Centennial schedule favors the Garnet in 2010 as Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Johns Hopkins, and Muhlenberg, all Centennial playoff teams in 2010, will visit Clothier Field.  The Garnet open Centennial Conference play vs. F&M on September 17 and then host Muhlenberg on September 28 in a rematch of last year’s Centennial Conference final.  The Garnet close out the regular season at Haverford on October 29th, marking the latest installment in one of the longest-running rivalries in college soccer.

2011 Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll (# of 1st place votes)
1. Swarthmore (4)…………..74
2. Muhlenberg (4)……………73
3. Johns Hopkins (1)………..66
4. Franklin & Marshall (1)….57
5. Dickinson……………………54
6. Gettysburg………………….42
7. Haverford……………………32
8. McDaniel…………………….21
9. Washington College………17
10. Ursinus…………………….14

Reprinted from August 24th with permission from the Swarthmore Athletics website, here

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