Sept. 6, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The 2007 edition of the Yale men's soccer team will be one of the youngest in Brian Tompkins' tenure as head coach. There will be only four seniors on the roster when the Bulldogs open the season against Northwestern on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the first day of the Yale Classic.
"I view leadership as a function of quality rather than quantity, and we are fortunate to have four exemplary young men in our senior class," said Tompkins, who is in his 12th year as head coach. "They will be extremely influential on a youthful and talented squad."
Team captain Erik Geiger, Dwayne Whylly, Matt Perille and James Craig comprise the Class of 2008. The team also features a number of underclassmen who could be ready to take the next step. As a result, Tompkins is optimistic heading into the season.
"This is a team with a lot of potential, but it is most noteworthy for having a tremendous spirit and drive to do well," he said. "A high level of team chemistry can move mountains so it will be exciting to see what they can accomplish."
The strength of the team figures to be on defense, starting in goal. Geiger and Whylly are both experienced keepers. Geiger, a two-year starter, was sixth in the Ivy League in saves last year and earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition in 2005. Whylly has a 1.25 career goals against average and was the winning goalkeeper in Yale's 2-1 victory over 17th-ranked Fairleigh Dickinson last year. Sophomore Travis Chulick is also a talented keeper and gained valuable experience in his rookie year.
Junior Markus Jackson is the most experienced defender with 27 career starts and should help anchor the defense. Craig and Perille both bring their leadership skills to the defense.
Three juniors will contribute on the backline as well. Max Rhodes started a career-high 11 games last year. Alex Guzinski moves from the midfield to defense after appearing in 15 games in 2006, and Frank Piasta is a quick and powerful defender. Freshman Colin Christman (Falmouth, MA) will compete for playing time.
The Bulldogs will feature a deep and talented midfield. Junior Tyler Guse was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection as a freshman in 2005 but was slowed by injuries last year. He is one of the team's top playmakers. Junior Alex Afsahi was the recipient of the team's most improved player award last year and should continue to develop.
Sophomore Jordan Raybould made an immediate impact in his rookie year. He started 10 games, the most of any freshman, and was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after scoring the winning goal against Princeton. Two other sophomores, Justin Song, a quick and clever wide midfielder, and Casey Logan, should see time as well.
Four freshmen will try and make an immediate impact in the midfield. Dale Peterson (Sarasota, FL) was a two-time all-state and all-area selection at the Saint Stephens Episcopal School. Eric Meyer (Madison, WI) was the 2006 Gatorade and WIAA Wisconsin Player of the Year at James Madison Memorial High School. Sebastian Serra (Mexico City, Mexico) was invited to tryout for the Under-17 Mexican National Team. Andy Shorten (Hudson, OH) was named to the NSCAA All-Region IV team as a senior at Western Reserve Academy.
The biggest obstacle facing Tompkins' squad is replacing three seniors who accounted for 15 of the team's 23 goals last year. Fortunately, there are a number of candidates. Junior Liam Leonard is a talented striker who started seven games last year and was third on the team in goals in 2005. Sophomore Kevin Pope gained valuable experience, appearing in 11 games, and could play a greater role in 2007.
A pair of freshmen are also likely to contribute up front. Brad Rose (Toronto, ONT) scored 90 goals in four years at Upper Canada College. Aden Farina-Henry (Eugene, OR) was named the Southwest Conference Player of the Year as a senior at South Eugene High School after scoring 23 goals in 14 games.
The race for the Ivy League crown should once again be very competitive. Harvard is the defending champion, but there are a number of teams, including the Bulldogs, that should contend for the title.
"As always, the Ivy race should be very close, and I fully expect that there will be little breathing space," Tompkins said. "The 2007 champion probably won't be determined until the very last day of the season."
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity