Old Dominion - Three And A Half Star Recruiting Class - Alan Dawson will enter the 2013 season with the challenge of replacing five seniors from the 2012 team who were four year starters. Gone are forward Yannick Smith (3g, 5a) who had twenty-three career goals and fourteen career assists, midfielder Chris Harmon (9g, 6a) who was a 2012 All-CAA First Team selection, midfielder Jordan LeBlanc (5g, 3a) a 2012 All-CAA Second Team member, defender Alex DeJohn (1g, 0a) a 2012 All-CAA Second Team selection, and goalkeeper Victor Francoz an All-CAA Third Team selection.
The 2012 team was 11-3-3 overall and rocketed upward in the polls after beginning the season with six consecutive wins. However they subsequently sustained several unexpected losses and finished the season with a 5-3-2 mark in CAA play with losses to Drexel, William and Mary and Hofstra. As a result some felt the 2012 team underachieved based on the level of talent and experience that was on board.
The landscape at Old Dominion will be different in 2013 due to the fact that after twenty-two years as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, Old Dominion will begin play as a member of Conference USA in 2013 which will consist of New Mexico, Tulsa, Charlotte, Kentucky, UAB, South Carolina, Marshall, Florida International , and Florida Atlantic in men’s soccer. The addition of Old Dominion as well as New Mexico and Charlotte lends credibility to CUSA in men’s soccer and helps to make up for the loss of SMU and Central Florida who have departed.
Under Dawson’s direction ODU has become a consistent winner as reflected in the fact that the Monarchs have been part of the NCAA Tournament field nine out of the past eleven seasons including the past three. In eight of those seasons ODU has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tourney. You can always count on ODU upsetting at least one highly ranked opponent in regular season play every year.
Old Dominion will enter the 2013 campaign without the services of three of their top four goal scorers from the 2012 team. The good news is that senior forward Tim Hopkinson ((10g, 5a) who was ODU’s top goal scorer last year and an All-CAA First Team selection returns. The Monarchs will likely center their offense in 2013 around Hopkinson and senior midfielder Gideon Asante (2g, 3a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons. Asante, who missed a portion of the 2012 season due to injury, has been an All-CAA selection for the past three seasons.
Junior Ivan Militar (2g, 1a) and sophomore Sidney Rivera (1g, 1a) also return up-top. Militar saw action in seventeen contests last year with five starts while Rivera played in thirteen matches with one start. Both have the athleticism and skill needed to add an additional dimension to the Monarch attack.
Junior Skylar Hagan and sophomore Ryan Condotta (0g, 2a) will join Asante in the midfield. Hagan is a hard working linkman with two years of starting experience under his belt while Condotta will enter the 2013 season after an impressive rookie season. Redshirt sophomore Nate Foglesong and sophomore Geoffrey Hill are among other returning linkmen who look to be in the hunt for additional playing time.
Seniors Jason Gaylord (0g, 1a) and Ryan Oakes (0g, 1a) are three year starters and will provide a solid nucleus for Dawson to build on in the back in 2013. Sophomore Moussa Diallo who saw limited action last year is among other returning defenders.
The graduation of Francoz who was the man for the Monarchs in goal for the past two seasons means that a new face will be between the pipes in 2013. RS Senior San Stowe from Midlothian, Virginia who played in one game last year and sophomore Connor Miller from Salisbury, North Carolina are among retuning netminders. Incoming freshman Matthew Sanchez who is a member of the Pureto Rico U-20 National Team should also be in the mix for the starting role in goal.
Dawson has announced the addition of a seven member recruiting class that has an impressive record of competitive club play that should facilitate their transition to the college game. Dawson who will enter his seventeenth season at ODU in 2013 stated, “This is probably the most complete recruiting class that I can remember since coming to ODU. We expect this class to make an immediate and major impact on our squad and anticipate that at least two or three of them will be impact players.”
Old Dominion will enter the 2013 season with more than the usual number of unanswered questions but the cupboard is far from bare with a solid nucleus to build around. Clearly some of the returning players who saw limited action last year will have to play key roles and some of the newcomers will need to provide immediate help. The fact that ODU spent their spring break in Barcelona, Spain where they played two friendly matches and trained should be a big plus as far as team chemistry is concerned.
Kelvin Centeno - Midfielder - Alexandria, Virginia - Hayfield High School - First Team All-District. Virginia ODP and ODP Region 1 team member. Played club with McLean Development Academy.
Connor Hylton - Defender - Rockville, Maryland - Rockville High School - Plays with Baltimore Bays Chelsea U-18 team. Two-year captain at Rockville High School.
Nick Hutchinson - Defender - Allentown, Pennsylvania - Parkland High School - First Team All-State. All-Region. Member of the Delco Academy team for four years.
Jesse Miralrio - Midfielder - Arlington, Texas - Summit High School - Member of the Solar Soccer Club since 2005. Very athletic, physical, and soccer savvy goal scorer.
Matthew Sanchez - Goalkeeper - Owings Mills, Maryland - The McDonogh School - Member of the U-20 Puerto Rico National Team. Played with the Baltimore Bays Chelsea. All-Southern Region.
Cole Stringer - Midfielder - Keller, Texas - Keller High School - U.S. Soccer Development Academy 2010-2012. Played for USSF Solar Chelsea U-16 Development Academy.
Christian Wirth - Defender - Pittstown, New Jersey - North Hunterdon High School - Express Times First Team All-Area Boys Soccer. Players Development Academy.