2015 Brown University Team and Recruiting Class Review

School - Brown University
Conference - Ivy League
Coach - Patrick Laughlin (Sixth Season)

Background - Brown has made a total of twenty-seven appearances in the NCAA Tournament including three in the five seasons that Patrick Laughlin has been at the helm of the program.  The Bears, who had to contend with more than the usual number of injuries in 2014, struggled by their own standards with a 5-6-6 overall record and a 2-3-2 mark in Ivy League play.  Midfielder Jack Gorab was named a 2014 First Team All-Ivy League selection and teammates forward Ben Maury and defender Alex Markes were All-Ivy League Second Team All-Ivy League selections.  

Offense - The Bears will be without the services of forward Ben Maurey (4g, 2a), a 2014 Second Team All-Ivy League selection, due to graduation.  Maurey led Brown in scoring last year with four goals. Senior Will Cross (3g, 1a) and junior Nate Pomeroy (1, 1a) who missed a large portion of the 2014 season due to injury return to lead the Brown attack up-top.  Sophmore Quinn English (0g, 1a) is among other returning forwards that Coach Laughlin will likely look to for offensive punch in 2015.  Freshman Matthew Chow whose resume includes membership on the U-17 Canadian National Team is among the newcomers who could immediately add to the attack. Senior midfielder Jack Gorab (2g, 6a) who was a 2014 First Team All-Ivy League selection will add an additional dimension to the attack on the flack and in set pieces.  Junior Tariq Akeel (2g, 0a) who was hampered by injury last year looks to be fully recovered and should play a key role in the midfied in 2015. Sophomore Nico Lozada and sophomore defensive center midfielder James Myall gained valuable experience last year and look to play a greater role in 2015.  
Defense - The backline looks to be a team strength heading into the 2015 campaign since players who saw a majority of the minutes last year are slated to return.  The lone exception is the right back position which is vacant due to the graduation of Alex Markes who was a four-year starter and 2014 All-Ivy League Second Team selection. Sophomore Louis Zingas who played in fifteen contests last year with eight starts and highly regarded newcomer Carl Johan Mix from Sweden look to be among the likely candidates to fill the right back position.  Senior Tim Whalen (0g, 1a) returns to anchor the backline.  Whalen is a multi-year starter and rock-solid performer who led Brown in minutes played last year.  Look for Whalen to set the pace in the back.  Senior Jameson Lochhead (0g, 1a) is a solid and experienced performer who also looks to be a starter if he can avoid the injuries that have hampered him at times over the past three seasons.  Junior Mike Leone who played at both the center back and center midfielder positions last year, sophomore Gabe Welp who was a starter last year, and junior Jason Pesek who has missed time on the pitch due to injury the past two seasons also look to play key roles in the back.  Sophomore Trey Thomas who missed the 2014 season due to knee surgery returns in 2015 and should also complete for minutes. Brown will enter the 2015 season with a new presence in goal due to the graduation of netminder Mitch Kupstas.  Junior Erik Hanson who had one start last year and sophomore Joey Cipicchio return in goal.  Both are capable goalkeepers.  Hanson has played for FC Delco and the Philadelphia Union and Cippichio has gained valuable competitive experience with the Crew Soccer Academy.  Freshman Teo Norhagen from Stockholm who has playing time with the Swedish National Team on his resume should also be in the hunt for the starting role in goal.   

Newcomers - Three and a Half Star Recruiting Class 

Dean Bloembergen - Midfielder - Okemos, Michigan - Okemos High School - Played for Crew Soccer Academy Wolves.  All-Conference, All-Region, and All-District First Team.  

Matthew Chow - Forward - Vancouver, British Columbia - Vancouver College - Played for Vancouver Whitecaps.  Member U-17 Canadian National Team.

Jack Hagstrom - Defender - Middleton, Wisconsin - Middleton High School - Played for Madison 56ers.  First Team All-Conference.  Big Eight Conference Player of the Year in 2013.  All-State.

Carl Johan Mix - Midfielder - Stockholm, Sweden - Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium - Played club for IF Brommapojkarna.  Two-time juniorallswenskan (U-19) Division I Elite North selection. 

Teo Norhagen - Goalkeeper - Stockholm, Sweden - Viktor Rydberg Gymanasium - Played for IF Brommapojkarna, U-17 Swedish Youth National Team.  

Justin O'Brien - Defender - Montclair, New Jersey - Montclair High School - Played club for PdA USSDA. Team captain. All-State and All-Essex.  

Prognosis for 2015 - Brown returns eight starters and fourteen players that have started a contest in the last two seasons. They should be able to hold their own with anyone in the Ivy League but for that to happen they are going to need to up their productivity on the offensive side of the ball without sacrificing effectiveness on the defensive side of the ball.  A cursory review establishes that Brown was at or near the top of the Ivy League in 2014 in all statistics relating to the defensive side of the ball but at or near the bottom in all statistics relating to offensive productivity. They also will need to remain healthy and avoid the degree of injuries that they sustained last year.  In 2014 the Bears held opponents to a total of eighteen goals but they also were only able to put the ball in the back of the net a total of fourteen times. That ratio has to change in order for any significant improvement to occur in the win column in 2015. Brown has historically been very solid on the defensive side of the ball and there is no reason to believe that will not again be the case in 2015. The greatest opportunity for improvement clearly exists on the offensive side of the ball. Cross, Pomeroy, English Akeel and Gorab are capable of making good things happen on the offensive side of the ball but they may have to do it by committee. Newcomer Matthew Chow could prove to be the missing ingredient needed to give the attack the extra punch that it needs for Brown to win the close contests that eluded them last year.  Laughlin has brought on board a talented recruiting class that has the potential to help plug the gaps and make an immediate impact. The backline anchored by Whalen will be experienced which is a plus particullary in the early going since a new face will be in goal without any collegiate experience. Brown is always a tough side to face because they are a well organized, team oriented, hard working, and soccer savvy bunch that doesn't give up easy goals. The Bears have the potential to significantly up their win total in 2015 and to contend for the Ivy League title but in order for that to become a reality they will have to find a way to produce the big goals and plays that are required to yield a different outcome.      

 

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