HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky.
- The Northern Kentucky University men’s soccer team is hoping
experience will be the key to success this season as the Norse return
10 starters from last year’s 12-6-2 squad.
“We have the experience
of having played one year together already,” said NKU head
coach John Basalyga, who guided his team to one of the nation’s
biggest turnarounds in 2004 (from a 4-9-3 record in 2003 to 12 wins
last fall). “We only lost one player from last year’s
team, and that was Nate Madden, who was our goalkeeper and the Great
Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year.”
Basalyga, however, welcomes
back the nucleus of the defense from last season. A year ago, NKU
started as many as eight freshmen in some games. Basalyga, entering
his third season at NKU, expects that experience to pay off in 2005.
“The players have
to take ownership of the team. The team needs to lead collectively,
not just one person but the whole team,” Basalyga said. “We
have two seniors this year, Randy Walters and David Lies. They should
be able to step up and be an example for the others because they
have been around the longest.”
Last season, Walters
finished with four goals and five assists while Lies added two goals
for the Norse. Lies, a four-year standout in the defensive backfield,
started every game for the team last season.
senior David Lies
In addition to the two
seniors, NKU also returns All-GLVC performers Chris Thompson and
Andy Bacon. Thompson, a sophomore forward, led the team last season
with seven goals. Bacon, a sophomore defender, was a key player
on defense for the Norse.
Two other players who
started all 20 games last season also return for NKU. Sophomore
midfielder Kyle Roberts finished last season with three goals and
four assists. Tony Capurro, a sophomore from Cincinnati, added a
goal and two assists.
The Norse also welcome
back Dan Impellizzeri, a sophomore defender who added one goal and
one assist while being a key part of the Norse defense that only
allowed 12 goals all season.
Other key returnees
include Jason Larkin, David Botos, Tyler Rowlette, Tony Cullum and
Kevin Holder. Basalyga added a solid recruiting class for depth,
and he has four goalies on the roster battling to replace Madden.
for the team this season is no different than any other year.
“My goal for the
team every year is to always win one or two more games than the
previous year,” Basalyga said. “We want to advance one
more game in the conference tournament and win more games. With
our schedule that is going to be a handful.”
NKU is picked sixth
by the coaches in the GLVC preseason poll. The Norse finished last
season with a 6-3-1 GLVC record, which was good for fifth place.
The Norse will take
on defending conference champion and national runner-up Southern
Illinois at Edwardsville at home on Oct. 14. SIUE was picked to
finish first in the conference. Last season, the Norse fell in overtime,
2-1, to SIUE.
The Norse will also
face Wisconsin-Parkside on Sept. 23 and Lewis two days later at
home. They were chosen to finish second and third, respectively.
NKU tied Wisconsin-Parkside last season and upset Lewis, 2-0.
“We proved last
year that anybody can beat anyone on any given night,” Basalyga
said. “We need to not let complacency set in. You need to
go out and prove yourself every night.”
NKU will begin its season
against Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 27 at the Town & Country Sports
Complex in Wilder, Ky. at 4:30 p.m in the John Toebben Classic presented
by National City. The following day at 2:30 p.m., the Norse will