Men's soccer to graduate six seniors, looks forward to recruits
With a frustrating loss to the University of Vermont last week, Dartmouth's men's soccer team was bumped out of the NCAA tournament and officially ended the season.
"We were very disappointed in the tournament, but overall this season we have a lot to be proud of for what we achieved," said Head Coach Jeff Cook.
With the end of the season, the team bids farewell to its seniors and begins looking ahead towards next year.
Dartmouth's 11-4-3 season (5-1-1 Ivy League) marks the end of several soccer careers; the men's team will graduate a number of members this year, many of whom were starters.
"We had six seniors and the majority of them played big roles," Pumi Maqubela '10 said.
Of the players that will not be returning next year, two of the most notable are defenders Ale Frischeisen '08 and To Lobben '08, who led Dartmouth's notoriously tight back line. "We lose Frisch and Tommy at the back, which is a tough gap to fill," Daniel Keat '10 said. "They were a centerpiece of the team."
Despite the loss of such valuable players, Cook seemed confident that Dartmouth's defense will remain strong.
"The seniors were a great group of players, but we have a lot of depth, and guys that didn't play as much this year will have much bigger roles," Cook said. "Donnie Surdoval '10, who was injured this year, has experience. Brendan Lane '11 also did well in practice situations. They are strong defenders and we want to continue our tradition of outstanding defensive play."
Returning teammates had similar feelings and echoed Cook's opinion.
"We pride ourselves on having a strong defense and the seniors [are leaving] big shoes to fill, but we have the depth to do it," Keat said. "Donnie Surdoval has played there. Pumi [Maqubela], [Ben] Salmon '10 and Bryan Guidicelli '11 can also play well in the back."
Another powerhouse on defense, goalkeeper Sean Milligan '09, will also be returning to the pitch next year. Milligan set a school record with nine shutouts this season, yet coach Cook believes he will only get better.
"Other goalkeepers on the team will challenge Sean to improve," Cook said.
Control of the midfield will remain in the hands of current sophomore and junior players, including Dan Keat '10, Matt Carroll '09, and Derek Stenquist '10. Coach Cook said he will also be looking to include more players who did not see as much playing time this year.
"In midfield, J.R. Keeve '11 will compete for playing time," Cook said. "And [Sean] Milich '09 and [Matt] Miller '09 will come back next year and be asked to step up."
The three leading scorers on the team, New Zealand U-20 national team player Craig Henderson '09, perpetual threat Dani Rothenberg '09 and freshman sensation Andrew Olsen '11 will all return to head up the Big Green's offense.
As the team looks ahead to next year, many believe there is room for improvement. Dan Keat spoke on the ability of the team to continue controlling the game after taking the lead.
"We have become a team that expects to win instead of finishing teams," said Keat. "Against Vermont, we should be able to kill the game off. We need to put them away early, then be comfortable in the fact that we can keep the ball."
Coach Cook followed up with similar comments, noting that in the future the team must continue to apply offensive pressure after scoring.
"One challenge we have is being more productive offensively when we need to put teams away. We left the Vermont game hanging around and it came back to haunt us. Offensively is where we need to work. We have the advantage in general play, but don't seize opportunities. But we have lots of young players who can improve. That is the best way to get better."
Improvement of individual players will come from both returning veterans and new recruits. Although he was not yet able to comment specifically on next year's incoming freshmen, coach Cook noted that he is very pleased with the recruiting class.
"We work very hard recruiting," Cook said. "We have a some great kids and we are excited about that."
Despite only limited interactions with recruits, current players are also enthusiastic about the incoming players.
"They should be good assets to the team," Maqubela said.
Before the addition of new recruits, the team will spend the winter months training in preparation for several matches in the spring.
"In the spring we have three contests, but we are really looking forward to the dedication game," Cook said.
The men's team will play Notre Dame on April 19 during the dedication of the new Burnham Field.