Oakland Rides High Expectations Into New Season
As the saying goes ... good things come to those who wait. And if this holds true, the Oakland University mens soccer team can only expect the best.
The waiting game has been a long one as head coach Gary Parsons redshirted the 2000 senior class in 1997 in anticipation of a run for an NCAA tournament berth. Those redshirts are finally seniors and the time is now for OU to make that run.
The Oakland mens soccer team completed its first full season in the Mid-Continent Conference in 1999 and is ready to capture the championship in 2000. The Golden Grizzlies had an overall record of 11-6-2 last year and tied for fourth in the Mid-Con with a 2-3 record in the regular season. Oakland lost to IUPUI in the first round of the Mid-Con tournament by a score of 2-0.
The Golden Grizzlies have added 13 recruits to the roster and Parsons is looking to the seniors to take over the team and lead Oakland to the promise land ... the NCAA tournament.
"We have seven seniors returning this season," Parsons said. "They are all fifth year seniors and all want to finish their careers on a really high note. With the guidance of assistant coach Steve Seargeant and myself, I expect them to lead the rest of the team to the NCAA tournament."
Last season the Golden Grizzlies where 8-1 at home and 3-3-2 on the road. Their impressive road victories were against Fresno State, Western Illinois and Bowling Green. OU defeated Detroit, Xavier, Central Florida, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Butler, Oral Roberts and Marquette at home.
The Golden Grizzlies have adjusted well to a Division I schedule over the past two years by going 12-4 in 1998 and 11-6-2 in 1999. Last season Oakland was one of the top 30 teams ranked in the power rankings and finished the season ranked seventh in the Great Lakes Region.
Paul Snape (L) and
Oaklands 2000 schedule includes key games in the conference, region and games outside the region. The key games in the region are against Akron, Marquette, Ohio State, Butler and Cincinnati on the road and Michigan State and Bowling Green at home. Oakland has three key out of region games on the road against Gonzaga, San Diego and Vanderbilt.
"Last year we did well against the teams outside the conference and poorly in the conference games," Parsons said. "This year we need to correct our flaws in the conference and I think we have the depth to do it."
The Golden Grizzlies main strength is that they have the nucleus of the team back for the 2000 season and with the addition of 13 new players they should stack up pretty well against the teams in Division I.
Question marks for OU will be at the center back position and finding a second forward.
Heres how the Golden Grizzlies stack up at each position:
Mike Skolnik (Jr./Livonia/Churchhill HS) should be number one in the net for the Golden Grizzlies. Last season Skolnik started all 19 games and played all 1785 minutes of the season. He had 11 shutouts, 68 saves and 16 goals against for a 0.81 GAA. Vying for time in goal will be Drew Simmons (Fr./Buffalo, NY/St. Josephs HS). In his senior year he recorded a 0.44 goals against average and had 13 total shutouts. The Maureders were 45-12 during his high school career.
The center back positions will have the most question marks for the Golden Grizzlies after losing key players last season. Returners competing for the starting spots in the center and outside back positions are Steve Nottingham (So./Stamford, England/Prince William School), Nick Stockyj (Sr./Shelby Twp./Utica Eisenhower), Adam Heinemann (Sr./Brandon/Ortonville) and Jason Perry (So./Southfield/Southfield HS).
Last season Nottingham missed most of the season due to an injury and played and started in only three games. Stockyj started 12 of the 14 games he played in and had one shot on goal. Heinemann started and played in all 19 games at left back in 1999. He scored one goal and had one assist for the Golden Grizzlies. Perry started six of the 17 games he played in and had one goal, two shots, three assists and five points.
The key newcomers that will add depth to these positions are junior transfer Jeff Beeler (Jr./Detroit/Eastern Michigan), Liam Judd (Fr./Birmingham/Roeper HS), Brian Williams (Fr./Fraser/Fraser HS), Tim Traphagan (Fr./Indianapolis, IN/Pike HS) and Matt Connor (Fr./East Lansing/East Lansing HS).
Beeler, a transfer from Eastern Michigan, started every game for the Eagles last season before EMU dropped its men's soccer program. Beeler was an All-Mid-American Conference performer both seasons. Judd, a four-year letterwinner at Roeper High School, was tabbed All-League and All-State as a sophomore, junior and senior. Traphagan, the United Soccer Club's Most Valuable Player in 1999, earned three varsity letters at Pike HS.
Williams received All-League and All- District plaudits three years and was named All-Region and All-State his final season at Fraser. In Connors final high school season he earned All-State first team, Academic All-State, All-Region, All- District, All-League and The Lansing State Journals Player of the Year award. As a senior he set a single season record for goals with 26.
Playing the defensive midfield position for the Golden Grizzlies will be Viggo Anthonsen (Sr./Gjerdrum, Norway/Wang). Last season he started 17 of the 18 games he played and had four assists and four points.
Returners competing for the center midfield positions are Gunnar Halvorsen (Sr./Gjerdrum, Norway/Wang), Pedersen and Jeppe Lagerbohm (Espoo, Finland/Pohjais-Tapiolan Lukio).
Halvorsen and Lagerbohm had six goals, two assists and 14 points apiece last season.
Other returning Golden Grizzlies competing for the wide midfield positions are Eris Tafaj (So./London, Ontario/Catholic Central), Lagerbohm, Mashni and Perry. Tafaj started nine out of the 18 games he played in last season.
Key newcomers for the Golden Grizzlies at the midfield positions are Rob Maxwell (So./Portage/Eastern Michigan), Chris King (Jr./Livonia/Eastern Michigan), John Maschoff (Fr./Shorewood, MN/Minnetonka HS), Doug Rice (Fr./Brighton/Brighton HS), Robert Hillman (Fr./East Lansing/Catholic Central) and Ryan Rzepka (Fr./Novi/Novi HS).
Maxwell transferred from Eastern Michigan where he played and started in 19 games and scored two goals and had five assists for the Eagles. King also transferred to OU from Eastern Michigan when the Eagles dropped their men's soccer program after the 1999 season.
Maschoff had six goals and seven assists as a senior at Minnetonka High School. Rice, a four-year varsity letterwinner at BHS, was a All-State perfromer and a member of the state runner-up team in 1998. Hillman holds his high school single-season assist record which he set his senior year and also plays with the Mid-Michigan Bucks in the summer. Rzepka won a state championship with the Catholic Central Wildcats in 1998. He had 31 career goals and 21 career assists for the Wildcats.
Leading the pack of forwards are Paul Snape (Sr./Liverpool, England/Liverpool), Ron Mashni (Sr./Plymouth/Salem HS) and Inge Pedersen (Jr./Klofta, Norway/Jessheim).
Snape led all scorers with nine goals, seven assists and 25 points in 1999. He had two game winning goals in the 19 games he started. Pedersen started in 17 of the 18 games he played in. He scored seven goals with five assists and 19 points. Mashni started 14 of the 15 games he played last season and scored one goal with three assists and five points.
Anders Vollen (Fr./Oslo, Norway/Lambertsetes) will solidfy the forwards position this season. Vollen played at Cedarburg High School in Wisconsin in 1997-98 and was an All-State performer and voted team MVP.