Men’s soccer: Experienced squad ready to challenge for HL title
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Returning its top six scorers, Wright State is looking to boost itself from a disappointing 2013 season where WSU went 6-11-2 when it starts the 2014 season Friday versus Kentucky.
The Raiders finished their two-game preseason schedule Sunday with a 2-1 win over No. 12-ranked Marquette.
“Last year was a big disappointment for us,” senior defender Gustav Svensson said. “We had high expectations from the start but we had a lot of injuries. This year, we look healthy, we look strong. I think this will be a good year.”
The Raiders were 4-7 last year in one-goal contests. With seven one-goal losses, Wright State head coach Bryan Davis hopes a more veteran squad will lead to better results.
“The guys are poised to have a good season, how that transpires is to be determined by them,” Davis said. “Right now, I feel really good about what they’re putting in. They are gaining the right habits, they believe in each and what is going on and that is a good starting point.”
Last year, WSU had a top-40 freshmen class according to College Soccer News. Eric Lynch, a 2013 freshman, was second for the Raiders in scoring with three goals, eight assists. Jacob Stovall and Austin Seifert also produced solid freshmen campaigns.
They are still the youngsters on the squad as there are only seven freshmen on this season’s 32-man roster.
“We have done a really good job at bringing in great players, but we now have an experienced group that have all been through our system, have had some success, that have high expectations,” Davis said.
Four Raiders were named to the Horizon League’s first and second preseason teams last week. Among them, defender Emeka Ononye was named KW United’s Player of the Year for his work over the summer in a developmental league.
With what Davis describes as a team of athletic footballers, the squad will look to pick up the pace going into the season.
“It is not better or worse than what we had before, just different,” Davis said about playing up-tempo soccer. “The vision has always been there to be a team dangerous in the attack and that is hard to deal with. If we have the ball, we’re going to control the outcomes of the games (more often) than if we are erratic. The biggest difference is we have a group that is now finally able as a whole of playing that way.”
The Raiders attracted several crowds of over 1,000 fans last year. A faster pace could make for more exciting games at Alumni Field said Ononye.
“I am always excited to play in front of the fans and put on a show for them,” Ononye said. “I am excited what is going to be like this year, I am excited to get the fans out.”