With a veteran squad returning for the 2014 campaign, the Emory University Eagles have their eyes set on a return to the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament in the upcoming season.
A Look Back at 2013
The Eagles narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Division III Championships last season, finishing the year with an 11-5-2 overall record, marking the squad's 12th-consecutive season with a double-digit win total. Included in their overall record was a 4-1-2 mark in University Athletic Association (UAA) games, good for a tie for second place in the conference. The Eagles entered the final day of the season in the running for the conference title, but were ultimately eliminated when the University of Rochester earned a win in its final game to clinch the UAA Championship.
Emory was particularly strong at home during the season, going 6-2-2 at the Woodruff Physical Education Center. The squad had strong results against ranked opponents, going 2-1-2 against teams ranked in the NSCAA's Top-25. The Eagles outscored their opponents 36-20 in 2013 (including a 21-10 edge in the second half of games) and outshot opposing squads by a 291-222 margin.
The Eagles are slated to return 20 letter winners for the 2014 campaign, including seven players who started double-digit contests last year and 13 players who appeared in at least 10 games.
"Last year we had a lot of growing pains," said Emory Head Coach Sonny Travis. "I think this year, the level is higher, the players are more experienced, and we feel ready – as ready as you can be at this time of the year."
Emory will be returning its top two scorers from last season in senior Dylan Price and sophomore Jason Andrejchak. Price, who scored 10 goals and assisted on four others for 24 total points in 2013, will enter the season ranked 14th in school history with 29 goals and 19th with 66 total points. In addition, the NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region Third Team and All-UAA Second Team selection is tied for third in school history with 11 game winning goals, seven behind the program record. Andrejchak made an immediate impact on the Emory squad during his freshman campaign with five goals and three assists for 13 points, earning an honorable mention to the All-UAA Team.
After scoring one goal and assisting on three last year, junior Sebastian Hardington will be looked on to increase his role at the forward position in 2014, along with returners Nick Schook (two goals), Max Gomas (two goals) and Darion Morgan (one goal and three assists). In addition, senior Jeffrey Cochran will be an offensive factor on throw-ins, after registering a goal and a team-best seven assists, five of which were the result of his long throws.
"We have to put it all together," said Travis. "I think Dylan [Price] has had a good preseason. I also think Sebastian Hardington will be a key player in the attack. Jason Andrejchak gives us something… And, Nick Schook has come on very fast as an attack midfielder."
Emory's strength as a team in 2014 will likely be the center of its defense, led by a pair of team captains in junior Matt Sherr and senior Noah Rosen. Both started all 18 of Emory's games last season, helping the squad record a 1.08 goals against average (the program's lowest mark since 2010), with Sherr claiming NSCAA All-South Region Third Team and All-UAA First Team honors.
"[Sherr and Rosen] are the backbone of the team, no question about it," said Travis. "I think Matt Sherr proved himself to be one of the best defenders in the South Region. Noah Rosen has been a four-year starter for us, and a leader. Those guys are anchoring a veteran defensive line right now."
On the outside, returning senior Carl Credle, juniors Derek Chan and Leo Ragazzo and sophomore Benjamin Murray, should all help anchor the Eagles' backfield. Two freshmen have an opportunity to make an immediate impact defensively for the Eagles, with Gabriel Vasconcelos seeing time at outside back, and Jason McCartney securing the defensive midfield.
Junior goalkeeper Abe Hannigan, who earned an All-UAA Second Team selection in 2013 and has started 32 of Emory's 38 games during his first two years on the team, will return to the squad for his junior season. He was 11-5-2 during the 2013 campaign with a 1.09 goals against average, including a 0.81 GAA in UAA contests. Sophomore Alexander Herbets, who played 14 scoreless minutes in his only appearance of the year, will challenge Hannigan for playing time in 2014.
"Abe, to me, was one of the top-two goalkeepers in all of the UAA, and this year he could be number one," said Travis. "But, he's also being challenged and pushed by sophomore Alex Herbets, and Alex has had a good preseason."
Travis is entering his eighth season as the Emory Head Coach, during which he has notched a record of 90-32-9 and led the Eagles to four NCAA Tournament berths and a pair of UAA Championships (2008 and 2012). In addition, he has a 384-124-44 career record, which includes stints at Virginia Wesleyan and Centre, and is just 16 wins shy of the 400 victory mark, a milestone achieved by only 15 Division III coaches to date. Travis will begin the season ranked 12th among active Division III coaches in winning percentage (.735) and 13th in wins, and 17th in winning percentage and 20th in victories all-time among Division III coaches.
Cory Greiner will begin his second season as the Eagles' Assistant Coach, while Diarmuid McGuigan will join the staff as the Goalkeeper Coach for the 2014 campaign.
The Eagles will open up their season with the annual Sonny Carter Invitational on August 29th and 30th, playing games against Centre College and Rutgers University – Newark during the tournament. The Eagles will be in search of their second-straight tournament win, and their ninth overall in the tournament's history.
"We do this every year to honor Sonny Carter, and all he meant to the Emory Men's Soccer program," said Travis. "Arguably, the most visible player to ever come through the men's soccer program – an astronaut, a doctor, and a tremendous soccer player who played professionally."
"I think we have one of the most competitive opening-season tournaments in the country. We have four quality teams, and all of them had strong seasons last year."
Emory will participate in two other tournaments during the year, facing 23rd-ranked Ohio Northern and Ramapo at the Berry Invitational on September 6th and 7th, and Rhodes and Hendrix at the Warrior Classic on September 13th and 14th.
The Eagles will kick off their conference schedule in the always-competitive UAA on October 5th at 24th-ranked Washington University (Mo.). During the course of the UAA season, the Eagles will take on three other teams ranked nationally in the NSCAA's preseason poll – #13 Rochester (at home on October 31st), #17 Brandeis (on the road on October 19th) and #18 Carnegie Mellon (on the road in the regular-season finale on November 8th).
This Weekend's Opponents
The Eagles will open the season against Centre on Friday, August 29th at 2:00 PM, and then face Rutgers-Newark on Saturday, August 30th at 4:30 PM, with both games at the Woodruff Physical Education Center. All four games of the Sonny Carter Invitational will feature live statistics (http://www.go.emory.edu/LiveStats/MSocc/XLIVE.htm) and a live video webcast (http://www.emoryathletics.com/sports/msoc/live). The webcasts will be free to watch in standard definition, with an option to upgrade to high definition for $6.00 per game.
The Eagles are 24-6-1 all-time in home-opening games and 20-8-1 all-time in season openers, including a 6-2 over Marian University (Wis.) last year. Emory is also 6-3-1 all-time in games played during the month of August.
Centre will open its season on Friday after going 9-6-3 during the 2013 season, and is slated to return five all-Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Team selections from the campaign. Emory is 0-2-0 all-time against the Colonels, dropping a 3-2 game in Danville, Kentucky in 2012, and a 2-1 affair in Atlanta last season.
Rutgers-Newark was 17-6-1 during the 2013 season, and will also be opening up its campaign this weekend when it faces Covenant College on Friday at 4:30 PM as part of the Sonny Carter Invitational. The Scarlet Raiders finished as the runners-up at the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championships last year, and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championships, falling to Roger Williams in the first round. The team will be returning NJAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year Raphael Araujo, and all-NJAC performers Patryk Dawidczyk, Matt Broomall and Anthony DiRisi.
Following the completion of the Sonny Carter Invitational, an all-tournament team, consisting of 11 players and a tournament Most Valuable Player will be selected.