July 21, 1997
Men's Soccer Moves Onward and Upward
PALO ALTO, Calif. - With a winning attitude in place and a solid foundation from which to
grow, the '97 Cardinal squad heads into the new season ready to serve
notice that they are a force to be reckoned with on the national scene, not
only this season, but for years to come. Sparking this newfound confidence
is the return of eight starters, including the top six scorers from last
year's squad, a stellar recruiting class and one of the finest and most
respected coaches in the collegiate ranks.
Orchestrating the Cardinal rise to national prominence is
second-year head coach Bobby Clark. An instant success in his initial
season on The Farm, Clark took a program coming off three consecutive
losing seasons and one which had posted just four winning seasons in the
previous 10 years, and directed it to a 10-4-4 record and postseason
"The objective entering last season was to get a winning season,"
said Clark. "I think we were perhaps a little surprised that the team did
so well. There was a tremendous amount of desire, team play and hard work.
It really was an outstanding effort on the part of the team. These are
things that we are not going to get complacent on. We have got to remember
this coming season that the success we achieved last year came from the
Hard work and team play have been the trademarks of Clark-led
squads throughout his career and the Cardinal have embraced it whole
heartedly. With the philosophy in place, along with the fact that when the
season begins the majority of the players will have had 17 months to learn
and absorb his system, the foundation has been laid and the growth begins.
With 15 letterwinners returning, including eight starters, the
growth process should be a quick one. Versatility and experience dot the
Cardinal roster in the field, with only the goalkeeper position lacking
valuable match experience. Junior Grant Brown and redshirt-freshmen Bobby
Randolph and Adam Zapala will vie for the starting nod in goal, with only
Brown, who saw action in three contests last season, having stepped on the
collegiate field. Despite the lack of experience, Clark is very confident
in the three players. Brown turned in a fine spring performance and both
Randolph and Zapala boast exceptional credentials at the high school and
club levels and each have had a year in which to mature and fine-tune their
"Brown saw most of the action in spring and did a fine job," said
Clark. "He's definitely staking a claim to the position, but without
question, Randolph and Zapala are now in the mix. We certainly have good
cover at the position."
There is no lack of experience in the back line, which will be
anchored by senior co-captain Daniel Wytock, the only player to start in
all 18 matches last season. The defense will also welcome the addition of
last year's leading goal scorer, junior Jamie Clark. Moving back from the
midfield where he led the team with 10 goals and tied for the team lead
with 21 points, Clark will play alongside Wytock in the middle. Sophomore
Gerard Davis returns at right back while junior Eric Vandevelde, who is
returning from a knee injury which sidelined him in '96, shores up the left
side. Adding support will be senior Jason Roeder, sophomore Andy Hemmerich
and redshirt-freshman Chris Gores. Hemmerich and Gores provide the
Cardinal with a wide variety of combinations with their versatility.
Hemmerich, who is coming off a standout freshman season, can lend support
in the middle as well as anywhere along the left flank while Gores can
spell relief anywhere along the back line.
"We look to be very strong in the backfield," said Clark. "We
have a good deal of depth at the position. It might be a little bit
strange moving your top scorer from a year ago back into the defense, but
Jamie (Clark) has a good idea of what he is doing and he would give the
defense a bit of creativity."
The same can be said for the midfield, where three starters
return. Expected to be the general in the middle of the field will be
junior Shan Gaw, who despite missing five matches last season due to
injury, contributed four goals, the fifth-highest total on the team, and
one assist. Complementing Gaw in the middle will be junior Simon Elliott,
a transfer from Victoria University in New Zealand. A member of the New
Zealand Olympic team and a former player of Clark's on the Kiwi National
team, Elliott has played at the highest level and his talent and experience
should make an immediate impact on the Cardinal program. Gaw and Elliott
will be flanked by junior Aaron Jones on the right and senior Erik Morrison
on the left. Providing depth to an already exceptional midline will be
sophomore T.K. Inbody, who could see action anywhere along the line, and
senior Jeff Szekeres.
"We have an exceptionally strong group here," said Clark. "Jones
and Morrison both did a great job last year. Both are two-footed and can
play either side, giving us a lot of variety there. Add to that the
strength of Vandevelde, Davis and Hemmerich, all of which can come up the
flank, and we're very strong in the wide areas. Shan's a first-class
player technically and he is so much better now than he has ever been. We
also get good depth from Inbody, a very, very fine player who can assume
any position on the line."
Up front, the Cardinal returns two of its most prolific playmakers
in juniors A.J. Sauer and Adam Siegman. Sauer, also designated a team
co-captain for '97, accounted for nine goals and three assists last season,
both career-highs. His 21 points tied him for the team lead. Siegman
added five goals and three assists, also career-highs. Providing depth
will be sophomore Brandon Garinger, who turned in a solid freshman year,
tallying two goals and one assist in limited action.
"Siegman and Sauer form an excellent combo with the hard running
and the work of Siegman and the craft and tremendous scoring ability of
Sauer," said Clark. "Both provide a lot of firepower."
Complementing a solid returning class will be possibly Clark's
finest recruiting class in his 10 years at the collegiate level. In
addition to Elliott, the class includes midfielders Scott Leber, Matt Moses
and Sean Sylvis and forwards Luke Rust and Corey Woolfolk. All five come
to The Farm with impressive credentials, including two with state
Player-of-the-Year honors: Woolfolk (Michigan) and Leber (Arizona-twice).
"I don't know when I've been happier with a recruiting class,"
said Clark. "Getting Elliott was a bonus. He is a very special player. I
think all of the freshman can contribute right away and gives us the depth
that we didn't have last season. Each of them are tremendous
student-athletes and their arrival is not only very exciting for me, but
for the program and university as well."
With the foundation in place, the talent pool growing
ever-stronger and with Clark at the helm, the Cardinal program is moving
onward and upward.