Aug. 26, 2002
Stanford, Ca - The 2002 Stanford men's soccer team has the look of another championship squad. This year's team, under the guidance of second-year head coach Bret Simon, bears a resemblance to last year's squad that possessed excellent talent, great team chemistry and super depth.
The Cardinal in 2001 enjoyed a memorable campaign. Stanford chalked up a 19-2-1 record, captured the highly-competitive Pacific-10 Conference (6-1-1), finished undefeated at home (10-0-1) and advanced to the semi-finals of the NCAA College Cup.
All the winning ingredients are there for another exciting Stanford team in 2002. Although there are a few question marks about the team's defense, talented replacements should help ease the transition. This squad should be entertaining and fun to watch.
"I think there is the possibility to be better," said Simon of the Cardinal which has seven returning starters and 18 lettermen. "I believe that our large group of seniors coming back have great leadership ability. With a strong group of new players and underclassmen we already have, we'll have the potential to be an exciting team."
Five seniors will serve as the backbone of this year's team. The list includes goalkeeper Andrew Terris (6-2, 185, Senior, Newton, Ma), forward Roger Levesque (6-2, 175, Senior, Portland, Me), defender Todd Dunivant (6-0, 175, Senior, Wheat Ridge, Co), defender Taylor Graham (6-4, 190, Senior, Fair Oaks, Ca), and midfielder Johanes Maliza (5-8, 160, Senior, Chicago, Il).
"This group of seniors is the best group of leaders and the most dedicated people that I have had in 22 years of coaching," said Simon. "Each of them by themselves would rate as a top captain for any team that I have ever coached. The five of them together make an awesome group that inspires by their work ethic as well as their ability."
Terris started 21 games last year, allowed only 12 goals (0.64 gaa) and collected five shutouts. In Stanford's 12 shutouts, Terris was the starting netminder in eleven of those matches. Terris has chalked up impressive statistics, but he will be pushed for a starting role by sophomore Robby Fulton (6-3, 190, Sophomore, West Linn, Or) who appeared in nine games last year as a freshman. Fulton allowed only one goal in 377 minutes of action and collected a shutout in his first collegiate start, a 1-0 double overtime win against nationally-ranked Washington in Seattle.
"With Andrew (Terris) and Robby (Fulton), I feel we have two of the top-10 goalkeepers in the country," said Simon. "Andrew started last year based on a little more experience, but we should have quite a friendly battle between the two of them (for playing time). They are best of friends, but they are competing for the same spot."
Levesque headlines a quintet of Stanford returning goal scorers. Levesque attacked the net for 14 goals in 21 starts last year, and added nine assists for a team-leading 37 points. Levesque, a second team All-American, loves the pressure of scoring when called upon late in the game. Levesque led the Pac-10 in game-winning goals (4) in addition to leading the conference in goals scored (14), points (37) and assists (9). That is quite an accomplishment for a player who plays in one of the top collegiate soccer conferences in the country. Levesque has been a valuable member of the Cardinal for three years, playing in 55 games (23 as a starter) in his Cardinal career, and tallying 61 points (22 goals).
Maliza has been a vital force in Stanford's success the last three years. Last year, Maliza emerged as a dangerous goal scorer. He tallied 19 points, third-best on the Cardinal, and that included a league-leading five goals and 12 points in conference games.
Stanford was stingy with opposing goal scorers last year. The Cardinal allowed only 13 goals and collected 12 shutouts in 22 games. Although the Cardinal graduated several key defenders from last year's team, Simon is confident that this year's group of defenders is ready to keep the tradition of defensive strength, including the contributions of remaining senior starters Dunivant and Graham. Dunivant, a first team All Pac-10 selection, started 21 of Stanford's 22 matches, and also contributed 19 points (six goals, seven assists). Graham started all 22 games last year, and helped anchor a backline that allowed only 0.56 goals per game.
Several returning lettermen may see time on defense with the possibility that one or more could find their way into the starting lineup. Multifaceted Aaron Maines (6-2, 185, Sophomore, Falmouth, Me) started all games in the spring and found considerable playing time in the fall. Veteran defender Taylor Ahlgren (6-1, 190, Senior, Cardiff, Ca) looks to regain form and fitness after several injury-plagued seasons. A number of other veterans have experience and excelled playing both on defense and midfield, and may be called upon to step into a defensive role. They include Todd Leber (5-8, 155, Sophomore, Tucson, Az), Seyi Abolaji (5-10, 175, Sophomore, Aurora, Co), Clayton Peters (5-9, 158, Midfield/Defender, St. Louis, Mo) and Ashvin Kumar (5-11, 160, Sophomore, Palo Alto, Ca).
Five of Stanford's top six scorers return from a year ago, and thus opposing defenses won't be able to concentrate on one or two specific Cardinal attackers. Those five scorers accounted for 38 of the team's 56 goals.
"We hope to have the strongest group of attacking players the school has ever had," said Simon. "We are more experienced, and dynamic in putting the ball into the opponents net."
The midfield was a strength for the Cardinal last year and provided the ability to control the flow of the game. Joining senior Maliza in this year's midfield is tri-captain Abe Geiger (6-0, 175, Junior, East Lansing, Mi). Geiger's ability to win balls, organize the team's defense, and deliver confident possession was key to last year's success. He will be joined by Mike Wilson (5-10, 156, Plimmerton, New Zealand) in sharing the leadership of the team's midfield. Wilson's inspirational play is expected to help this year's team reach its competitive potential. Several others have experience in midfield including the aforementioned defenders. Also, Luis Gonzales (5-11, 160, Sophomore, San Antonio, Tx) will look to impact the team this season.
In addition to the return of seniors Levesque, Maliza and Dunivant to help the scoring load, Matt Janusz (6-2, 175, Sophomore, Littleton, Co) and Darren Fernandez (6-0, 195, Sophomore, Benoni, South Africa) provided double-digit scoring totals last year. Both are back to increase their stats and that could translate into Stanford wins. Janusz tied for second in the team with 22 total points (nine goals, four assists). Three of those goals came in a 3-1 victory over Santa Clara in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Fernandez competed in 19 games for the Cardinal in 2001 as a freshman, five as a starter. His eleven points (four goals, three assists) were sixth-best on the Cardinal.
Other returning attackers looked impressive during the spring and are forcing the coaching staff to find ways to put them into attacking roles on the field. They include James Twellman (5-10, 165, Sophomore, Chesterfield, Mo) and Sean Whalen (6-0, 175, Sophomore, Los Altos, Ca).
Four talented newcomers will also contribute to Stanford's success in 2002. The list includes defenders Chad Marshall (6-3, 185, Freshman, Riverside, Ca) and David Oleson (6-0, 175, Freshman, Nevada City, Ca), and midfielders Bronson McDonald (6-0, 175, Freshman, Kingston, Jamaica) and Kevin Coyne (5-7, 150, Freshman, Wayne, NJ) .
"Each of them has strong talents," said Simon. "Chad Marshall was probably one of the top five recruits in the country. He has a lot of experience playing on the Under-17 national team, and now with the Under-20 team. Bronson (McDonald) is talented and athletic, and can play anywhere in the back or midfield. David (Oleson) is a strong defender from the esteemed San Juan Soccer Club. Kevin (Coyne) is quick, skilled and a hard working midfielder."
Stanford's schedule will be highly competitive. The Cardinal will have eleven home games, and will play several of the top teams in the nation in addition to competing in the always tough Pacific-10 Conference. The Cardinal begins with the home and season opener against Sacramento State (August 31) and then will test one of the top teams in the nation at the Bay Area Classic on September 6, the Mustangs of SMU. Two days later, Stanford will host powerful Portland.
"SMU was ranked #1 most of last year, and they will again field a great team," said Simon. "SMU knocked us out of the NCAA Tournament two years ago. Portland is an NCAA tournament-type team with great personnel. The games against SMU and Portland will make for a great weekend of soccer."
The Cardinal will also host the Stanford/Nike Tournament (Sept. 27 & 29). The Cardinal will face Tulsa and South Bay rival Santa Clara.
Stanford has been ranked #2 in the pre-season NSCAA/adidas Coaches Poll, and fourth in the pre-season Soccer America poll. The Indiana Hoosiers are ranked #1 in both polls.
The Pac-10 has been rated as one of the top three soccer conferences in the nation, and this year will be no exception. "The Pac-10 should be even stronger this year," said Simon. "UCLA is a great rivalry. Washington has an outstanding program, Cal and Oregon State are quickly becoming national-level programs, and the addition of Fresno State as a soccer member of the Pac-10 will add to the strength of the league."
The Cardinal will open league play against Washington at Maloney Field on Oct. 11. Other league home games are against Oregon State (Oct. 13), California (Nov. 1), Fresno State (Nov. 8) and UCLA (Nov. 10).
"We will be a very competitive team," said Simon. "The team made great strides during the spring. We are much farther along than we were last year at the time. There will be some pieces of the puzzle that we'll have to work on defensively. Last year we had a majority of the defense intact and we built from there. This year with the loss of some key defenders to graduation, we'll be working hard in practice to revamp our defense. The good news is we have good defensive players and we'll have some great options."