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Men's Soccer Season Preview

Princeton's Mark Linnville
Princeton's Mark Linnville

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PRINCETON, N.J. -- The 58th season of Ivy League men’s soccer gets underway this weekend as the Ancient Eight begin their respective non-conference slates on Friday.

Harvard is the first team to kickoff the 2012 season, as the Crimson head west on the Mass Pike to take on UMass in an intra-state rivalry game that begins at 4:00 p.m. At 5:00 p.m., Penn opens at home versus Patriot League foe Lafayette. Columbia and Brown are the other two Ivy teams opening the season at home. The Bears welcome Rhode Island to Stevenson Field for a 7:00 p.m. game that marks the first round of the 2012 Ocean State Classic (which also features Bryant and Providence College). Also at 7:00 p.m., Columbia will take on Fairfield.

Dartmouth and Princeton open on the road versus BIG EAST competition. The Big Green play at No. 4/1 Connecticut and the Tigers play at Seton Hall. Both those contests are also 7:00 p.m. starts. Rounding out Friday night’s slate, Yale plays at Central Connecticut State at 7:00 p.m. and Cornell plays at Cal State Fullerton in a 10:00 p.m. west coast season opener.

Coming off a 2011 season in which at least two Ivy League teams appeared in the NCAA Championship for the seventh consecutive season - including Brown advancing to the final 16 for the second consecutive year - the race for the 2012 Ivy League men’s soccer title is sure to be just as dramatic as it was a season ago when Dartmouth and Brown ultimately tied for the League crown.

The Big Green and the Bears will be looking to defend the Ivy League title after sharing the 2011 championship by posting 4-1-2 marks in League play. The last team to successfully defend the Ivy title was Dartmouth, which won the 2004 title and then won a share of the 2005 crown (with Brown and Yale).

On an individual level, the League has many returning All-Ivy players and future stars to keep an eye on.

As it turns out, scoring may prove to come at a premium this season as many of the returning stars can be found in goal or marshalling backlines across the League. In net, three All-Ivy goalies from 2011 are back in 2012, led by Cornell senior Rick Pflasterer, who earned first team honors in 2011. Second team honoree Bobby Thalman returns to the net for his senior season at Yale, and Dartmouth junior Noah Cohen, an honorable mention selection n 2011, also returns.

Four All-Ivy first team defenders from 2011 also return in 2012, led by Princeton senior Mark Linnville. Linville also earned first-team All-Ivy honors in 2009 and 2010 and has a chance to become the seventh player in League history to accumulate four such honors. Cornell junior defender Patrick Slogic was a first team honoree in 2011 and was placed on the MAC Hermann Trophy preseason watch list. Brown senior Dylan Remick, one of just two unanimous All-Ivy selections a season ago, will lead a Brown team that heads into the season as the only Ivy team to appear in the national rankings. Yale junior Nick Alers, a first team honoree in 2011 and an honorable mention selection as a freshman, will team with Thalman for a formidable defensive core for the Bulldogs.

Even though several of the League’s offensive stars from the last four seasons have moved on including 2012 Player of the Year Lucky Mkosana (Dartmouth), budding Philadelphia Union super-sub Antoine Hoppenot (Princeton), the Penn tandem of Christian Barreiro and Thomas Brandt (who netted five goals as a defender last season) as well as the Brown duo of Sean Rosa and TJ Popolizi, there will still be plenty of offensive firepower across the League. Last year, 12 players scored at least five goals and seven of those 12 players are back in 2012, led by Cornell junior Daniel Haber, who had nine goals in 16 games last season. Princeton senior Matt Sanner and Yale junior Peter Jacobson are the second-leading returning goal scorers as each netted seven goals in 2011.

Other offensive players to watch include Dartmouth senior midfielder Kevin Dzierzawski, an All-Ivy first team selection in 2011, who returns after a junior campaign in which he tied for the League lead with seven assists and added four goals for 15 points. Another upperclassman to keep an eye on is Columbia senior forward Will Stamatis. Last season Stamatis, who proved to be the Lions’ go to player in the clutch last season. He earned All-Ivy first team honors after scoring six goals, five of which were game-winning strikes and three of those came in overtime. In two seasons, Penn junior forward Stephen Baker has scored 13 goals and added four assists for 30 points.

The Columbia trio of Henning Sauerbier, David Najem and Nick Scott combined for six goals and 11 assists last year and are poised to provide even more offensive punch to the Lions’ midfield in 2012. Junior Connor McCarthy and senior Brian Rogers will look to pace the Crimson offense. Last season, McCarthy saw action in all 17 games and tied for the Harvard lead with two goals, while Rogers, the 2009 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, will look to cap his career in the form he had as a freshman and sophomore when he combined for 29 points (11 goals, seven assists). Brown senior midfielder Thomas McNamara is also looking to make the most of his senior season. Last year, McNamara was limited to just four games due to injury, but still managed to score a goal and add two assists. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, he scored eight goals.

A trio of sophomores will also look to build on impressive freshman year offensive outputs. Penn’s Duke Lacroix, the 2011 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, scored five goals and added two assists as a freshman. Elsewhere, the Princeton sophomore duo of Cameron Porter and Julian Griggs combined for eight goals and two assists in their freshman campaigns.

Friday, August 31
Harvard at Massachusetts, 4 pm
Lafayette at Penn, 5 pm
Dartmouth at Connecticut, 7 pm
1 - Rhode Island at Brown, 7 pm
Fairfield at Columbia, 7 pm
Princeton at Seton Hall, 7 pm
Yale at CCSU, 7 pm
Cornell at Cal State Fullerton, 10 pm

Sunday, September 2
Harvard at Northeastern, 2 pm
Holy Cross at Dartmouth, 3 pm
Columbia at Sacred Heart, 5 pm
New Hampshire at Penn, 6 pm
Cornell at Loyola Marymount, 9 pm

Monday, September 3
2 - Brown vs. Providence College/Bryant, TBA
Albany at Yale, 2 pm

1 - Ocean State Classic (campus sites)
2 - Ocean State Classic (at URI /Kingston, R.I.)

With a seven game League schedule and no championshipship tournament, it is no secret that every game on the Ivy schedule has big ramifications in the chase for the League title and subsequent automatic NCAA bid. In fact, only in 1964 (Dartmouth at 5-2-0) and in 1975 (Brown at 5-2-0) has the League champion finished with more than one League loss.

In 57 seasons of play, the men’s soccer title has been won outright 42 times. Fourteen times, two teams have tied for the championship. In 2005 there was a three-way tie for the title as Brown, Dartmouth and Yale all finished at 5-1-1.

Brown leads the way with 20 total Ivy League titles, followed by Harvard with 13. Of Brown’s 20 titles, 12 have been won outright – also a top mark in the Ivy record book.    
In 56 attempts to date, the Ivy League title has been successfully defended
(meaning at least one of the previous season’s champions won the League title the following season) 24 times. The last team to successfully defend the Ivy title was Dartmouth, which won the 2004 title and then won a share of the 2005 crown (with Brown and Yale).

The last time consecutive Ivy championships were won in outright fashion was 1997 and 1998 when Brown claimed consecutive titles. The most dominant stretch of title defenses was put together by Columbia when it won eight consecutive League titles from 1978-85 (including sharing the 1980 title with Penn).

As the last team to post a perfect League season, Princeton posted a 7-0-0 record en route to claiming the 2010 Ivy title. It was the 12th time the League champion finished with a perfect 7-0-0 mark. Eleven other times an Ivy champion finished without a loss but had at least one tie. Yale was the first team to post an unbeaten mark in League play as the Bulldogs went 5-0-1 to claim the 1956 title.
Cornell junior defender Patrick Slogic made the 2012 Hermann Trophy Watch List, it was announced by the Missouri Athletic Club on Aug. 13. Slogic scored three goals in 2011 and anchored a Cornell defense as he earned first-team All-Ivy status

The Hermann Trophy is the highest individual award in college soccer. Slogic was part of a list of 42 men’s soccer players who are on the initial watch list. In late November, the list will be cut down to 15 players, and from there the top three will be announced on Dec. 6. The winner of the Hermann Trophy will then be announced on Jan. 11.

With Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth all entering the final Saturday of regular-season play with designs on winning at least a share of the 2011 title, the Bears and the Big Green ended the day as 2011 Ivy League Co-Champions with 14 points apiece in the League standings (4-1-2). Dartmouth earned the League’s automatic NCAA Championship bid because the Big Green beat third-place Columbia (2-0 at home on Oct. 22) and Brown lost at third-place Columbia (2-1 in 2 OT on Oct. 1).

On an eventful final day of Ivy League men’s soccer play that was full of overtime action, Brown and Dartmouth played to a 0-0 tie in a game that began at 4 pm, in Providence, R.I. Three hours later, Cornell played host to Columbia in a game that also ended in a tie, 1-1. The ties meant that Brown earned a share of the program’s 20th Ivy title, the highest total in League history. The Bears had last won the Ivy League crown in 2007. For Dartmouth it marked the program’s ninth title overall and first since sharing the title with Penn in 2008.

In the showdown between Dartmouth and Brown, the offenses were active as they combined for 35 shots and 12 shots on goal. In the end though, the goalies kept the game tied at 0-0 as Dartmouth goalkeeper Noah Cohen made five saves and his Brown counterpart Sam Kernan-Schloss came up with seven stops.

In the clash in Ithaca, N.Y., Columbia took a 1-0 lead on a David Najem goal scored in the 17th minute. But the Big Red answered in the 41st minute when Daniel Haber finished a Regan Tyler pass for his ninth goal of the year. Cornell goalkeeper Zach Zagorski made five saves in the game, while Columbia goalie Alexander Aurrichio made eight saves. Zagorski and Aurrichio made three saves apices in overtime to keep the game tied.