Men’s soccer anticipates start of season

Eric Dinka, sophomore forward, delivers a shot on goalFile photo

Trevor McNaboe

The 2013 campaign for the Georgia Southern University men’s soccer team is nearing. On slate for the Eagles is the second leg of preseason games that will take place next Saturday against the University of Central Florida.

GSU looks to bounce back this year after last year’s 6-12-1 record overall and a 3-3-1 record in the Southern Conference.

The Eagles brought back 10 starters from last year along with five new faces on their roster.

“We return the core part of our team from last year so we have an idea of what most everyone can do,” head coach Kevin Kennedy said.

Seniors with experience are prevalent on this roster as this senior class logged a total of 96 games played for the 2012 season. They also accounted for one quarter of the teams total goals scored and assists.

Winning the SoCon Championship has been a top priority for GSU since coach Kennedy took over in 2006.

“We have set a number of goals but that is the number one thing driving the guys along with the goals that they’ve set,” Kennedy said.

The main focus going into this year is the team’s defensive focus as the Eagles gave up 36 goals in 18 games last year. Experience in the back line along with veteran goalies senior Neal Bates and redshirt sophomore Jack Falle will be back this year.

“We know we’re going to score goals, we’ve got personnel that can make things happen in the attacking third, we’ve just got to get better defensively,” Kennedy said.

The emergence of sophomore defender Reed Norton, after a stellar freshman campaign leading the team in five goals and 13 points, leads the Eagle Nation to wonder who will be the next player to have a breakout year.

“I think Josh Ward is going to turn a lot of heads, he’s a junior college transfer that’s coming in as a junior and he was an All-American at Jefferson College, that’s a terrific leader and terrific kid, he could be a big part of our defense this year,” Kennedy said.

GSU will open up by hosting the annual SoCon/Big South Challenge on Friday Aug. 30, and will take on Winthrop University.