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awhom111
08-12-2009, 07:14 PM
As some of the less popular sports are starting up at Duke, I want to share my knowledge of the teams and preview their seasons so that those who do not follow them can learn about the players, teams, and outlooks for the upcoming year. First up is soccer as the exhibition schedules start to kick off. After that, the fall sports include volleyball and field hockey. I would do Cross Country, but that seems difficult to preview in the same way that I am doing the other teams. These previews are all my opinion based on watching the teams over the past few years. I hope that they help people learn a little something about these other Duke teams.

Menís Soccer:

Looking Back:
Menís Soccer comes off a solid season with a middle of the pack finish in the ACC, but a short postseason of one game in the ACC and NCAA tournaments. The team was extremely senior laden along its spine with two pro-level players coming out of the class. Gone are Mike Grella, who is plying his trade in England with Leeds United after playing a crucial role in Dukeís attack for four years, and Darrius Barnes, who has brought his long throw to MLS and started every game for the New England Revolution. Also graduating with them were Pavelid Castenada, who was a critical player in defensive midfield or on the backline, Brendan Fitzgerald, the starting goalkeeper, Graham Dugoni, a solid defender who was unfortunately sidelined by injury, and Brad Ramsey, a versatile midfielder. Solidifying this spine will be critical to success this year.

Key Returnees and Additions:
Jan Trnka-Amrhein looks set to claim goalkeeping duties as he demonstrated his terrific shot-stopping abilities and organized his defense well in a backup role last season. Christian Ibeagha seems poised to be pulled back into the center of defense from his holding midfield role and is likely to partner Matthew Thomas, who was more often used as a right fullback last season. The fullback spots are wide open right now, with the possibility of Josh Bienenfeld on the left and Nick Sih on the right. Both players have played there before, but they are also the two most versatile players on the team, so they could be plugged in almost everywhere. All of last yearís wing options return, probably with some additional experience as three were freshmen last year as senior Ryan McDaniel joins Joseph Pak, Temi Molinar, and Kwasi Ayisi in that part of the field. Cole Grossman will be called on to provide most of the creativity in the center of midfield as he will occupy the attacking role he played last year. His partners switched around frequently last year, but look for highly touted USA U-20 freshman Andrew Wenger to fight for that spot this year. The strike force will be interesting to look at as coach John Kerr was forced to alternate between one and two up top due to injuries and needs at other positions. Kyle Bethel had forged a good partnership with Grella before breaking his arm, so look for him to bounce back and play a role as an out-and-out goal scorer. Nick Sih and Trae Harrison were used in a more supporting role to link up the midfield with the attack later in the season. Highly regarded USA U-18 freshman Ryan Finley is also likely to feature and contribute. Graham Oxley could be brought on as a physical presence for the front line. While some of the other young players from last year are likely to contribute, no other players featured enough last season for me to understand what role they might play.

Outlook:
Success this year will be dependent on plugging in some of the holes left by last yearís departures. The defense is likely to be solid, but there is a big gap is in the goals department. Bringing in a top 15 recruiting class with a couple of potential stars will go a long way towards providing depth to the squad. The ACC will be as tough as ever, meaning that a repeat of last yearís fifth place finish will be considered a very good season for this group. This team is still young, so keeping this core together could reap future benefits. Look forward to a competitive team that will give ACC opponents a battle, especially at Koskinen, but this team may not be consistent enough to reach an elite level.

awhom111
08-19-2009, 09:02 PM
http://www.goduke.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=4200&ATCLID=204778101

This article states that three players are suspended for the season. Ian Kalis was already not listed on this season's roster at the time of my preview, so I did not mention his impact. He would have been the starting left back for the team. He is a very good player so I wonder if he may be exploring other options. Kyle Bethel is really the only proven goalscorer we have at this level besides Cole Grossman from the midfield, so we will be even more hard-pressed to find strikers. Joseph Pak was the most versatile midfielder we had in that he played in all of the positions at some time or other last season. These three losses of probable starters will impact Duke and they were picked near the bottom of the conference in the preseason poll.

awhom111
08-22-2009, 10:02 PM
The Men's Soccer team played to a scoreless draw against VCU on Friday. As expected, the lineup underwent a number of changes to plug a few holes. Also as I expected, this team will have some trouble scoring goals as Ryan Finley seems to be playing on his own up top and may not be getting enough support. Most of the players expected to play got some time, with the Tweed-Kent brothers both earning starts. We will see how this team will generate goals out of the 4-5-1 formation.

awhom111
08-26-2009, 05:56 PM
The team played their second exhibition match and defeated Georgetown 2-1. This is a very solid result. The lineup was shuffled a bit from the first exhibition. Trae Harrison was brought in to give Ryan Finley some support in the attack, which will hopefully give the team more chances to score goals over the course of the season. Harrison played a similar role at the end of last season.

summerwind03
08-27-2009, 07:34 AM
Thanks for the updates. I'm interested in the team, but haven't yet had time to really do my research.

BlueintheFace
08-27-2009, 09:51 AM
Darius Barnes was in a recent SI issue. Just FYI

awhom111
08-30-2009, 04:36 PM
The team closed out its preseason with a 4-0 win against a weaker opponent in the form of Greensboro College. There is not a lot to be gleaned from this one although pretty much everyone got in on the action.

devildeac
08-30-2009, 10:32 PM
The Men's Soccer team played to a scoreless draw against VCU on Friday. As expected, the lineup underwent a number of changes to plug a few holes. Also as I expected, this team will have some trouble scoring goals as Ryan Finley seems to be playing on his own up top and may not be getting enough support. Most of the players expected to play got some time, with the Tweed-Kent brothers both earning starts. We will see how this team will generate goals out of the 4-5-1 formation.

I know how it could be done (have your outside midfielders making attacking runs or have an attacking central MF). That's no guarantee however that the goals would be scored.