Men's Soccer |
May 2, 2011
By Rachel Hundley
After a successful 2010 season, the University of Cincinnati men's soccer team is confident that there are only bigger and better achievements on the horizon. The Bearcats recently closed out their spring campaign, which included wins over Ohio State, Cleveland State, and Northern Kentucky, and gave head coach Hylton Dayes a preview of what to expect for the 2011 fall season.
"The spring season is really the first chance you get to take a look at some guys that didn't play a lot in the fall and see what your team is going to look like," Dayes said. "It gives you a preview of what your team's going to look like, but also, it gives you a chance to play some of the younger players that didn't play a lot during the fall. If there are some new things you want to try tactically, you're able to do it without worrying about the results as much. You still want to win, but you're more concerned about trying to build your team."
Dayes and the Bearcats will have a solid foundation to build on from last season, coming off a 7-5-7 overall record in 2010, a second-place BIG EAST division finish, and a trip to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals. Matt Bahner, an important piece to the foundation and the team's top scoring threat, returns to for his senior season to pick up where he left off in 2010. The senior earned second-team All-BIG EAST honors as well as first-team All-Ohio accolades after leading the squad with seven goals, seven assists, and 21 points. UC hopes to give Bahner more offensive support in 2011, and the spring season brought reason for optimism.
"I think getting Matt Bahner some help offensively was definitely one of our objectives this spring, and to identify some other goal scoring entities within the team. We had a few guys that stepped up, and even though it was the spring, we did have some guys score some goals," Dayes said. "Matt Asensio, who played sparingly in the fall, scored three or four goals this spring. He really helped himself with his performance and really gave us an idea of what he can do. Shamar Shelton scored a few goals, too, and had a few assists, so he was another player who showed that he could score some goals."
While the Bearcats work to develop their offense, they will also have to look to fill a hole in their solid defensive unit. Matt Williams
, the starting goalkeeper, was one of six seniors on last year's squad that Dayes will have to replace in 2011. Williams was named the team's Defensive MVP after his All-BIG EAST senior campaign, and he set a program record with a 0.68 goals against average as well as finishing his career with 20 shutouts, second in school history. Replacing Williams in the goal will be difficult, but the Bearcats still plan to have a strong defensive framework in place for next season.
"We're always going to be a solid defensive team. We normally don't give up a bunch of goals. I think we do have the framework to be solid defensively again; however, the obvious question is going to be in goal, with Matt Williams (graduating), who was a fifth-year senior," Dayes said. "Certainly we have a number of guys who will look to fill Matt's shoes. Joey Barnard is returning, but we also have Taylor Hafling, a transfer from New Mexico, and at least one incoming freshman. I'm hopeful that we'll be very good defensively, but we do have to replace Matt and we also have to make sure that guys continue to get better, because even if you change (only) one piece out of your defensive unit, it's still a big piece."
The Bearcats used this spring to continue to develop and adjust to the changes on the field, and they will continue to work throughout the off-season to prepare for their 2011 fall season. With the loss of six seniors from last year's squad, there will be several new faces on the field for UC, but the Bearcats expect their winning ways to stay the same.