Bearcats' Spring Success Not Measured In Wins & Losses|
May 8, 2012
By Shawn Sell
You will have to forgive UC head men's soccer coach Hylton Dayes if he isn't too caught up in his team's win-loss record from the recently completed spring season. With a spring roster that features seven sophomores and holes to be filled in goal and along the backline, progress was the name of the game for the Bearcats as they prepared for the 2012 campaign.
Last fall was a bit of a rebuilding year for Dayes' Bearcats as a predominately underclass team saw the majority of the game action. Certainly, there were highs, like Cole DeNormandie earning All-Ohio and All-BIG EAST honors, but the team finished at a disappointing 6-11-1. With the loss of just three seniors that were regular contributors, the future looks bright and Dayes was pleased with what he saw during the spring session.
"I think we made a lot of progress this spring," he says. "From the beginning of the spring to the end, we saw growth not only in the team, but in individual players as well. There were a number of questions that we needed to answer and we were able to start doing that."
Atop the list of questions is who will take over the starting job at goalie. Gone is Joey Barnard, a 14-match starter a year ago. To start laying the ground work for next season, the UC staff split time between the pipes between redshirt sophomore Taylor Hafling and redshirt freshman Robert Hasselfeld. According to Dayes, both players had productive springs.
"We split time between Taylor and Robert to give those guys opportunities to play and gain experience so we could go into the off-season with a good idea of what they can do," he says. "They both played well. Taylor towards the end of the spring got a little bit more playing time and might have put himself a little bit in front. But Robert is certainly also in the picture."
In front of whoever gets the start in goal will be several fresh faces, as the Bearcats spent time testing combinations of defenders to find the right mix. Dayes knows one the toughest tasks will be replacing four-year starter Sam Klosterman, the catalyst of the team's defense. The good news though is the `Cats aren't short on candidates to step in.
"Sam was a four-year starter in the back for us and had lots of experience," Dayes says. "Certainly we used a lot of players at left back in the spring. We had Wyatt Stephens there; we also played Will Diebold who played the midfield in the fall for us. Losing Sam means that we have to go out and find a left back. We are looking at a couple of internal candidates, but we also have a couple of recruits coming in that could play there too. (But) we are losing a guy that played probably 70 college games and his leadership will certainly be missed."
Other incumbent candidates that got a look during the spring were junior Danny Mortimer and sophomore Jon Buschur. True freshman Richardo Israel, a Jamaican native joined the Bearcats for the spring as well.
One of the brightest moments for the UC squad this spring was the return of two players that missed significant time during the fall with injuries. Senior defender Zach Patterson, who was limited to just 11 matches because of an ankle injury returned, as did senior midfielder and team captain Matt Bahner, a victim of a torn ACL. Dayes was happy to see both players back on the pitch and was impressed with what he saw from each.
"We were able to give Zach lots of time and see where he was," he recounts. "Towards the end of the spring, he played pretty much pain free and was able to get in 90 minutes in some games. That is good because we needed to make sure he had made 100% recovery from his injury.
"Matt got lots of playing time and led us in scoring in the spring which was another positive," he continues. "It was good to see him regain his explosiveness and his ability to score goals."
While the spring season is important, a lot more goes into it than just wins and losses. To Dayes, by that measure, it was a good spring for the Bearcats.
"I think it was great because we were able to accomplish a lot of things outside of just the score."