Aug. 22, 2000
NKU LOOKS FOR IMPROVEMENT IN 2000
Newcomers could provide keys to winning this season
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - For most of last season, defense was a strength for the Northern Kentucky University mens soccer team.
Putting the ball into the opposing teams goal was an entirely different story.
The Norse were shut out seven times during the final 12 matches a year ago and finished with an 8-10-1 record. NKU also did not qualify for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament for the first time in the decade of the 1990s.
NKU head coach John Toebben said the lack of offense was the major culprit in 1999.
Scoring was our biggest problem last year, and we just did not finish when we were in position to score, Toebben said. Our defense played well most of the time, but we could not find the goal.
This season, we have players who can finish and put the ball into the net. We have a much deeper, stronger team, and I am really pleased with the attitude of these players.
Toebben, who is beginning his 11th season as head coach at NKU, returns 12 letterwinners and seven starters from last year. The Norse also add an excellent recruiting class and welcome in several redshirts who will contribute in 2000.
Mohamed Janah, a 5-foot-9 sophomore midfielder who sat out as a redshirt last season, returns to the lineup. Janah scored four goals and had two assists in 1998, and his return gives NKU an outstanding offensive presence.
Newcomer Greg Colston is another potential impact player at midfield who will add offense to the team.
Players like Mohamed Janah and Greg Colston are very strong with good quickness, and the midfield is the strength of this team, Toebben said. We also added a talented striker in Aaron Pitzer, and we have more maturity and experience this season.
Pitzer, a transfer from Cincinnati State Technical College, earned NJCAA All-America honors after scoring a school-record 26 goals last year. NKU also adds midfielder Aaron Deglow (who started for NKU during the 1996 season) and Cleveland State transfer Stephen Hahn.
Returning letterwinners include Mike Poole, Ben Otto, Nathan Gindele, Eric Hiltenbeitel and Greg Zaskowski. Newcomers such as Bobby Pifer, Jeremy Robertson and Justin Kelly will also help in 2000.
Sophomore forward Jeff Anderson led NKU in scoring a year ago with nine goals and two assists. Sophomore midfielder Tony Becker had four goals and three assists. Newcomer Yacoub Abdallahi also joins the Norse after sitting out a year ago.
Anderson and Becker give us a lot of flexibility because of their speed and quickness, Toebben said. Abdallahi is a very deceiving player who can put the ball into the net.
The NKU defense features junior stopper Kevin Crone, senior back Jeff Shoemaker, senior back Eric Borg, sophomore back Kevin Morath and senior goalies Jimmy Dwertman and Justin Wesling. Freshman Kyle Winkler could also be a factor this year.
NKUs schedule features a tough opener this Friday against perennial NCAA Division II powerhouse Truman State University in the first round of the Missouri-St. Louis Classic. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 12 nationally in the NCAA Division II preseason poll, and the Norse suffered a 7-0 loss at Truman State late last season.
Truman State is an excellent soccer team and this is a tough way to open the season, but our players are looking forward to playing against the best competition, Toebben said. We also face Rockhurst in the second game of that tournament, and they also have an outstanding team.
NKU, which won three GLVC championships during the 1990s, will open up conference play on Sept. 15 with a road match against Missouri-St. Louis. The Norse finished with a 4-6-1 record in the GLVC last season.