Men’s soccer optimistic despite youth

| Sports Reporter

Senior Patrick McLean gets by two Loras College defenders in a match on Sept. 19, 2010. While McLean and senior co-captain Michael Chamberlin will be key to the Bears’ attack, the team’s back line has been completely reshaped this season.

Senior Patrick McLean gets by two Loras College defenders in a match on Sept. 19, 2010. While McLean and senior co-captain Michael Chamberlin will be key to the Bears’ attack, the team’s back line has been completely reshaped this season.

Despite a makeshift back line and a plethora of freshmen, the Washington University men’s soccer team is beginning to gel, and the Bears are optimistic about the upcoming season.

The team graduated two all-UAA defenders, and five of its top six defenders overall. Head coach Joe Clarke spent extra time working with the defense in preseason practices, trying to figure who his starting four would be.

Upcoming Men’s Soccer Games

Sept. 1
The Bears kick off their season at Webster University. Wash. U. began last season with a 7-0 win over the Gorloks.

Sept. 3
The team faces Central College in its second game of the season and its home opener.

Sept. 25
Wash. U. travels to No. 23 Dominican University; the match is the first of three for the Bears against teams ranked in the preseason Top 25.

Oct. 2
UAA play begins as the Bears face off against Carnegie Mellon University at Francis Field.

Oct. 14
The team plays at New York University, the favorite in the preseason UAA Coaches’ Poll. The two schools played to a 0-0 draw last season.

Oct. 23
The Bears look for revenge on No. 15 Loras College. After defeating the Duhawks 1-0 in last year’s regular season, Wash. U. saw its season end in a penalty shootout against Loras.

Nov. 5
Wash. U. finishes out its regular season at the University of Chicago, whom the Bears beat 2-1 in overtime in the final game of the regular season last year.

Clarke moved juniors Kenji Kobayashi and Brian Wright to the center back positions, despite them having played forward and midfield last year, respectively. Neither of the starting outside backs played defense for the Bears last year as well.

“It’s definitely a challenge living up to Harry [Beddo] and [Alex] Neumann,who graduated last year,” Kobayashi said. “[The back four has] been watching film and been watching our scrimmages to just try to learn the game from that perspective.”

Clarke was pleased with their progress so far. “They’re learning on the job, but they’re doing very well with it,” he said.

Senior co-captain and midfielder Michael Chamberlin noted the revamped back line’s potential and athleticism.

“They move the ball around fast back there, which is great for us,” Chamberlain said. “They’re able to switch fields really quickly.”

The Bears did not allow a goal in their two preseason scrimmages against Missouri University of Science and Technology, grinding out 1-0 and 0-0 results. Missouri S&T is ranked 13th among men’s soccer programs in the NCAA ‘s Division II.

“Of course I saw a lot of things we need to work, [but] I was generally pleased,” Clarke said of the scrimmage. “We need to build on our attack, we have good attacking players. We need to get in and create more quality chances to score.”

Kobayashi agreed that the team did well to keep the ball during the scrimmages, but could have created more quality chances.

“We were able to control the ball and maintain possession for the majority of the game,” Kobayashi said. “I think if we can figure out a way to start controlling the ball in the final third and scoring some goals, we’re going to be pretty solid.”

Chamberlin was happy about the quality of the play the Red and Green were able to produce during the scrimmages.

“Being able to play together as a group that hadn’t really been able to play together before [was encouraging],” he said. “Being able to string some passes together, to get possession together, and to start to pressure together as a unit on defense was [also] encouraging.”

The Bears have three ranked opponents scheduled this year, including No. 15 Loras College, which knocked Wash. U. out of the NCAA tournament last season in penalty kicks. In addition, they were ranked fourth out of eight in a University Athletic Association preseason coach’s poll and 19th overall in an NSCAA preseason poll.

“It’s always good to have [a] strong schedule and boost your resume to get into the tournament,” Chamberlin said. “I think we have ton of players who are ready to step up, and everyone’s excited to see how far we can go.”

Wash. U. begins play Thursday at Webster University at 7 p.m.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.

Subscribe