Monday, August 27, 2012
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - The Westminster College men's soccer team looks to bounce back in 2012 from last season where they missed the Presidents' Athletic Conference playoffs for only the second time since they joined the league in 2002. The Titans, who posted a 4-14 recorded in 2011 and a 2-6 mark in the PAC, are ready to contend in the conference with some new faces and a handful of returners. Westminster brings back nine lettermen, six starters and 16 newcomer
Junior forward David Osae (Arlington, Texas/Lawrence D. Bell) is the only returning All-PAC honoree for the Titans. Osae is also the top returning goal-scorer with three in his second year as a starter. "Although David is one of the most talented players in our league, I'm not sure how any solid program can work their whole offense around one player," said Girish Thaker, who enters his 15th year as head coach in 2012." "One thing I know is we need David on the pitch and playing consistently over the whole season. I think we will have some players that will surprise our opponents."
Westminster has six returning starters including goalie Adam Kephart (Beaver Falls, PA / Beaver County Christian) and midfielder Josh Cantella (Freedom, PA / Freedom) who join midfielder Zach Melush (Newton Falls, OH / Southeast) as the trio of seniors. Sophomore defender Shane Noteboom (Hurst, TX / Oakridge), sophomore midfielders Dan Bishop (Burlington, NJ / Holy Cross) and Ryan Francis (Harwick, PA / Springdale), and junior goalkeeper Joe Bonish (Newport News, VA / Woodside) round out the returning starters for the Titans.
Due to graduation, Westminster lost three of their top scorers from 2011, which were Jake Huey (6 goals), Coty Hainsey (4 goals), and James Gross (4 goals). Their goals accounted for 64 percent (14 of 22) of the goals scored last season, however coach Thaker is optimistic for the 2012 offense.
"I would think we would have a balanced attack from both our forwards and midfielders, however I feel in order to have a successful season someone will have to score 13 to 15 goals," added Thaker. "I am very happy with this year's forwards and I believe there is someone in this group that is going to have an outstanding season."
Titan goalies Kephart and Bonish will both be vying for the starting position between the pipes. The duo split duties a season ago for a combined 112 saves, with Kephart leading with 58. Bonish had the winning edge with three wins including a shutout, while Kephart had one victory.
Eighty percent of Westminster's 2012 team is underclassmen with some competing to make an immediate impact. Sophomore Anthony Humes (Darlington, England, / The Hummersknott School) provided a spark in his first year as he played in 13 games with three starts and totaled five points (2 goals, 1 assist).
"I expect the underclassmen to challenge for starting positions and to bring our team the competition needed to get the best out of everyone," said Thaker. "I am not sure who is going to step up and lead, however the players that will stand out will have the leadership quality that I will be looking for."
About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster, a top-tier liberal arts college, ranks third in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster ranked 6th among liberal arts colleges in social mobility, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 377 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.
Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 42 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.