North Carolina State - Four Star Recruiting Class - The Wolfpack’s 2012 season ending loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament was in many ways a reflection of their entire season. In that contest the Pack scored twice in the first thirteen minutes of play but then allowed the Hokies to score three unanswered goals. Similarly, N.C. State began the 2012 season with a 6-0-0 record and vaulted into the top twenty but were unable to hold serve going 4-10-0 for the remainder of the year to finish with a 10-10-0 overall record. The dismissal of four players early in October added an additional challenge that didn’t make matters any easier. The initial success that the Pack enjoyed turned out to be a false positive in terms of predicting the outcome of the season.
As a result there is a wait and see attitude regarding the Wolfpack heading into the 2013 season. The consensus is that there’s a lot of talent on board, but it needs to mature and gel as a team in order for the Wolfpack to move upward in the hierarchy of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Depth and toughness are among the unanswered questions heading into the 2013 season. Clearly the status quo will not produce the desired results. Accordingly for significant improvement to take place in 2013, the Pack will likely need major contributions from its newcomers as well as improvement from returning players.
Let’s begin with the newcomers. Wolfpack head coach Kelly Findley, who looks to be just what the doctor ordered for the program, will enter his third season in Raleigh with the addition of a very solid eight member 2013 recruiting class that will bolster the roster. The marquee player of the class is NSCAA Youth All-American forward Travis Wannemuehler who was ranked by College Soccer News as the number thirty-three player in the class of 2013. Midfielder Roland Minogue, who is ranked by CSN as the number seventy-nine recruit in the class of 2013, is among other highly regarded newcomers. Sophomore midfielder Holden Fender who transfers in from UCLA is a positive addition who should have an immediate impact.
Senior midfielder Alex Martinez (11g, 10a), a 2012 All-ACC First Team selection, is the most decorated returning player. The offense was pretty much built around him last year. Martinez, who transferred to N.C. State last year from High Point University, had a brilliant 2012 season becoming N.C. State’s first double-digit goal scorer since Ronnie Bouemboue put fourteen in the back of the net in 2008. Martinez will again be at the heart of the Pack’s attack in 2013 but he will clearly be a very tightly marked man with a target on his chest. As a result others will need to step forward and add balance to the attack and share the task of providing offensive firepower.
Senior forward Nazmi Albadawi (3g,5a) is among returning players who could add an additional dimension the attack. Senior Nick Surkamp who missed the 2012 season due to injury but is healthy now and newcomer Wannemuehler are among others who could add punch to the attack up-top.
In addition to Martinez, returning midfielders include seniors Danny DiPrima (2g, 3a), Jorge Risquez, Mario Samperio, Michael Osei and Robert Beatty and sophomores Conor Agnew (3g, 0a), Philip Carmon (1g, 0a) and Joaquin del Rosario. Sophomore transfer Fender should hit the ground running and incoming freshmen Minogue and Michael Bajza should provide a boost and add depth to the midfield.
The backline will be experienced and should be a team strength with seniors Ryan Metts (0g, 2a) and Gbenga Makinde (0g, 1a) and juniors Matt Ingram (0g, 2a) and Moss Jackson-Atogi (1g, 1a) who were starters last year all returning. Junior transfer Clement Simonin from Lander University could also contribute immediately. Senior Fabian Otte returns in goal with two years of starting experience under his belt. Redshirt sophomore Joe Mills who saw action in four contests last year also returns between the pipes. Both are very capable goalkeepers.
There is reason for cautious optimism at N.C. State heading into the 2013 season. Findley knows how to put together a winning program and there are tangible signs that progress is taking place. However, the Wolfpack players have a lot of work to do to get where they want to be in conference play. That’s the reality for a team that was 1-7-0 in ACC play last year. When the Pack can consistently put together a full ninety minutes of play they will begin winning the close games that eluded them in 2012 and they will not have the trouble they experienced last year in putting their opponents away. You need look no further than the fact that the Pack outscored opponents 20 to 6 last year in the first half of play but were outscored 19 to 13 in the second stanza to appreciate the impact of a full ninety minutes of play.
Michael Bajza - Midfielder - Tampa, Florida - Shattuck-St. Mary’s School - Ranked by CSN as among the top 150 recruits in the country. Region 3 ODP team. Three years academy experience.
Holden Fender - Midfielder - Marietta, Georgia - George Walton High - Sophomore transfer from UCLA where he played in 14 games last year. 2012 Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year. Concorde Fire.
Yanni Michael Hachem - Midfielder - Cary, North Carolina - Cardinal Gibbons High School - All-State. Played club for CASL Chelsea Academy. ODP Regional Camp. Super Y National Team Camp.
Michael Hinkson - Defender - Raleigh, North Carolina - Wakefield High School - Played for CASL Chelsea Academy. Member U-14 and U-15 U.S. National Teams.
Roland Minogue - Midfielder - Huntersville, North Carolina - Charlotte Catholic High School - Played for Charlotte Soccer Academy. Named 2012 Greater Charlotte Soccer Player of the Year.
Clement Simonin - Defender - Lorient, France - Lander University - Junior transfer. NCAA Division II Second-Team All-American. All-Sun Belt Conference.
Travis Wannemuehler - Forward - Evansville, Indiana - Evansville Mater Dei - Ranked by CSN as the number 36 player in the class of 2013. Member U-18 National Team. NSCAA Youth All-American.
Connor White - Defender - Louisville, Kentucky - Louisville Collegiate School - All-State Second Team. Played for United Soccer Club. All-District.
Davis Robinson - Defender - Cary, North Carolina - Apex High School - Played club for CASL Chelsea Academy.
Jonathan Davis - Goalkeeper - Gastonia, North Carolina - Forestview High School - Played club for North Meck Soccer Academy. All-Conference. All-Region. Member of U-14 and U-15 US National Team pools.
Davi Ramos - Forward - Recife, Brazil - Fayetteville Academy - Cape Fear Region Player of the Year. Played for CASL Chelsea Academy.