Aug. 22, 2012
Men's Soccer Season Outlook
The 2012 men's soccer season begins a new era for Stanford. Jeremy Gunn has taken over as head coach and brings a great deal of experience and success with him. Gunn was the 2011 NSCAA Coach of the Year after leading Charlotte to the NCAA Final.
"It's an exciting new era for everyone," said Gunn. "The players are fit, strong and playing well. We have built a strong base since we got together in January."
Gunn steps into the Stanford program that is coming off a 6-10-2 season, but optimism is high and the squad is aiming to return to the NCAA playoffs. The Cardinal has talented players and under Gunn's tutelage is looking for immediate success.
"Hopefully we can build a brand of soccer that people identify as Stanford soccer. We will be very competitive, hardworking, organized and when we get the ball, play fast, attacking soccer - always trying to score goals. We will be looking to play the game on our terms."
Goalkeeper is perhaps the deepest position on the Stanford roster with two returners with starting experience and a third the coaching staff would feel comfortable plugging in. Drew Hutchins started in the spring, but Jason Dodson has had the lion's share of minutes over the past two seasons. Preston Langholz is much improved and could be a starter down the line.
"Drew Hutchins had a tremendous spring for us," said head coach Jeremy Gunn. "He solid in every aspect of being a goalkeeper. His distribution has been great, his shot stopping is excellent and he is a great presence in goal. Jason Dodson has worked really hard and is playing his best soccer since I have been here. He knows that he could be the No. 1 at any time. Preston Langholz is also developing tremendously and pushing the guys ahead of him."
anchors the backline as a senior and team captain. He brings a physical presence and great leadership and organization. He will captain a fairly new group that jelled very well in the spring season. He will play one of the two center back positions with freshman Brandon Vincent
looking to lock down the second spot. Other central defenders pushing for a spot are Jack Ryan
, Matt Taylor
and Eric Fabre
. Vincent is also capable of playing left back, but Tyler Conklin
has looked really strong as a great two-way player capable of attacking up the flank. At right back, Jimmy Callinan
has taken control of the position after being moved to defense in the spring. One of the team's best athletes, Callinan already looks comfortable in defense as well as attacking up the right flank. Gunn has molded some of the toughest defensive teams in the country, and feels that the Stanford back four will provide a great foundation for a stingy defense.
Stanford returns great depth in the midfield, returning three talented starters, and is bolstered by an exciting group of freshmen. In the central midfield, the Cardinal returns a pair of starters in Dersu Abolfathi and JJ Koval. Abolfathi has also played up top and could see time as a wide midfielder, but his experience as a senior will be invaluable. Koval has been a starter since Day One and brings stability as a holding midfielder. The other returning starter is Eric Anderson who moves back to wide midfield after starting in defense last year. He brings great speed and attacking ability to the wing. Also in the mix for a starting job at central midfielder is Austin Meyer, who is now at full strength after an injury-hampered year. Opposite Anderson on the left could be one of several players, including redshirt freshman Eric Verso and freshman Aaron Kovar. Kovar has been a spark during preseason, scoring in both exhibition games, while Verso is back after redshirting due to injury last season. Other freshmen, Slater Meehan and Ty Thompson and returning sophomores Grant Grafentin and Felipe Noguerol, give Stanford great depth and an ability to play different players at various positions.
"I think we have phenomenal depth across the midfield," said Gunn. "JJ, Dersu and Austin can all play centrally as returners, and out wide we have numerous attacking threats. We have a tremendous selection of different types of players for different occasions. Consequently, I see us having varying starting lineups across the midfield depending on the opposition and the type of game we want to play".
Adam Jahn leads the attack as the top returning scorer and a second-team All-Pac-12 player from a year ago. Jahn will be counted on to score goals and hold the ball in the offensive third. He will be joined up top by Zach Batteer and Bobby Edwards. Both Batteer and Edwards bring great pace and ability to work off Jahn to set up the Cardinal attack. Freshman Adrian Alabi is another option.
"Adam is unbelievable on the ball, he has a great first touch and can create and score goals from anywhere" said Gunn. "Bobby Edwards is an exciting striking option for us. He can play anywhere, but has proven to be a dangerous striker. Zach Batteer has great pace and strength, and can really stretch the opposing defenses."
All in all, Stanford men's soccer looks primed and hungry to succeed in the new era.