The George Washington University: Men's Soccer

GW Men's Soccer 2013 Season Outlook

Alex Sandland is one of five seniors on the Colonials' 2013 roster.
 
Alex Sandland is one of five seniors on the Colonials' 2013 roster.
 

Aug 30, 2013

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Not much was expected out of the George Washington men's soccer team in 2011 after the squad won just three games the previous season, but the Colonials shocked the Atlantic 10, winning a share of the regular-season title and advancing to the league championship game.

This season's Colonials will look to repeat history and again surprise the A-10.

Second-year Head Coach Craig Jones and his staff brought in 10 newcomers to add considerable depth to the 2013 roster, which boasts 14 returning players, creating competition for each position.

"All over the field we have two or three guys competing for each spot," Coach Jones said. "I believe we have the depth that when we are missing players, the guys coming off the bench will be just as good as the guys that they're replacing."

FORWARDS

With the graduation of last season's leading scorer, Seth Rudolph, Coach Jones points to players like senior Tyler Ranalli, sophomore Jonny Forrest and freshman Jopus Grevelink to pick up some of the slack up top. Ranalli had a breakout season as a junior, scoring three goals, and Coach Jones looks for him to have an even more prominent role in 2013. Forrest battled injuries last year but showed promise when healthy, and Grevelink played against national and international competition at IMG Academies in Florida.

"Those three guys right there are capable of scoring goals," said Coach Jones. "We want someone to have a good season as a forward and score a bunch of goals, but I hope that one guy doesn't have to carry the scoring. I think for us to be successful and get where we want to be we're going to need more than just one person to score the bulk of our goals."

 

 

Senior Francisco Solorzano will also look for time up front.

MIDFIELD

The Colonials have three experienced central midfielders in senior Bailey Hinners, junior Farhan Khan and sophomore Philip McQuitty. Hinners scored the first two goals of his career last year, and Coach Jones expects him to build on that in his final season. Hinners and Khan are both capable of scoring from distance and will be counted on to put some balls in the net, as well. McQuitty came on strong in the second half of the season, starting the final 11 games, and should carry that into 2013.

Freshmen Sam Summerlin and Spiros Tsakos, who were high school teammates at Thomas S. Wootton in Rockville, Md., and sophomore Spencer Bezirdjian will also contribute in the center of the field.

The wings will likely be manned by a number of underclassmen, including sophomores Dominic Gallelli and Ross Higgins, who each saw considerable minutes as rookies, as well as classmate Eddie Painter, who returns after missing his entire freshman season with an injury.

"Those are three exciting players who can score goals out wide," said Coach Jones.

Freshmen Garrett Heine and Angel Valencia were prolific goal scorers in high school and will give the Colonials additional options in the midfield.

DEFENSE

GW returns a wealth of experience on the backline, headlined by junior Andri Alexandersson in the center.

"Andri was our most consistent player last season," Coach Jones said of the reigning team MVP who played nearly every minute of every game in 2012. "He brings that leadership and composure; he has a calming effect on the players around him. He leads by example; he really leaves everything on the field, and if the rest of the group can follow his lead we'll be in good shape."

Joining Alexandersson in the back are junior Matthew Scott and seniors Alex Sandland and Abdul Shaban, all of whom missed significant parts of last year with injury.

"I don't think we ever had the same backline from one game to the next," said Coach Jones. "It will be nice to get more stability from our defense. If guys can play together consistently they get to have a relationship and understanding of the guys they're playing beside."

An A-10 All-Rookie selection in 2011, Scott was out for all of last season but is healthy and ready to pick up where he left off, while Sandland and Shaban should also be defensive anchors in their final go-rounds in the Buff and Blue.

Summerlin and classmates Tobi Adewole and Miles McClearn will also see good minutes on the backline. Summerlin and Adewole were both Washington Post All-Met selections as high school seniors, while McClearn earned New Jersey All-State honors.

Freshmen Nils Elwing and Haig Hengen and sophomore Matt Levin, a transfer from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, will also compete for time on defense.

"Depth is great, but we're looking for four guys to step up and establish themselves back there. We have strong returners and we've added some freshmen who I think will compete," Coach Jones said.

GOALKEEPERS

The injuries that ravaged the Colonials' backline in 2012 also made their way into the goal, forcing Coach Jones to start three different keepers a year ago. Sophomore Jean-Pierre van der Merwe saw the most time in front of the net last year and started all three of GW's exhibition matches this season, but he will be pushed by junior Luke Farrell, who performed admirably in his four starts a year ago, and sophomore Jack Lopez, who did not see any time last season but had a great spring.

"JP has good presence in the box and is a good shot-stopper," Coach Jones said. "Luke came back in very good shape. He commands the box and has great communication with the back four. Jack is not as big as Luke or JP but is very athletic and very commanding. It's a good problem to have, but it is a tough decision in terms of who is going to be the starting keeper."

Though two-thirds of his squad is made up of freshmen and sophomores, Coach Jones does not expect his team to experience too many growing pains in 2013 as many of his sophomores received considerable playing time as rookies.

"We're a fairly young team, but our sophomores played a lot of minutes last year," he said. "Even though this will only be their second season, the minutes they played is probably equivalent to some juniors and seniors."

While experience will not guarantee a starting spot, Coach Jones is looking to his senior class to step up in their final seasons in the Buff and Blue.

"We're expecting big things from the senior class this year," he said.

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