College of Charleston – Four Star Recruiting Class – The 2013 season looks to be a year of transition for the College of Charleston. The Cougars will begin play in the Colonial Athletic Association after having competed in the Southern Conference since 1998. That will mean a different menu of opponents and playing in several unfamiliar venues. In addition Ralph Lundy, whose 418 career wins ranks third among active Division I coaches, will enter his twenty-seventh season as the head coach at the C of C with some reloading to do due to the loss of a very talented and active 2012 senior class.
The departure of midfielders Sean de Silva (7g, 5a), Ralphie Lundy (3g, 1a), Tyler Vukoder, and Sam Redford (1g, 4a), forwards Francis Twohig (2g, 1a) and Luke Huggett (5g, 1a) and defender Shawn Ferguson (1g, 0a) among others means there will be significant personnel changes in 2013, but there's also still plenty of very capable talent returning and Lundy has added a nine member recruiting class that should help to plug the gaps.
The Cougars should be very good on the defensive side of the ball. It begins with 6' 4" senior Kees Heemskerk who returns in goal with the advantage of three very successful seasons in a starting role under his belt. Heemskerk, a 2012 Second Team All-Southern Conference selection, is among the best netminders in the college game and appears to have a future at the next level once his tenure in Charleston has expired. Sophomores Alex Young and Ryan McLaughlin also return in goal.
The backline will be anchored by shutdown senior center back and team captain Tam McGowan from Glasgow, Scotland. Senior Connor Coons will likely start alongside McGowan in the back. Sophomore Tucker Coons and junior Tanner Clay will contend for the two outside back positions. The backline looks to be very athletic with the size and speed needed to be very effective. Senior Porter Massey is among other returning backs who look to be in the mix.
Junior Troy Peterson (2g, 1a) from Federal Way, Washington returns to play a key role in the attack either up-top or in the midfield. Peterson has great touch on the ball and vision and is the guy who will set the pace for the Cougars whether getting the ball to the feet of others in the attacking third or creating his own scoring opportunities. Junior Daan Brinkman, a 2012 All-Southern Conference Second Team selection, will play a key role on both sides of the ball whether in a defensive midfielder role or in the back. Brinkman has been an impact player since arriving on campus and is a workhorse who does a lot of things that enhance the play of his teammates and elevates the productivity of the Cougars. Look for the play of Peterson and Brinkman to have a huge impact on the level of success the C of C enjoys in 2013.
Junior Jake Currie who transfers in from Cloud County Community College and highly regarded freshman Ike Crook who played for the Seattle Sounders Academy are among the newcomers who could contribute immediately in the midfield. Seniors Joey De Mare and Thomas Winstead are among returning midfielders who will seek to play a greater role in 2013.
There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding who will play up top. Peterson, Clay, and sophomore Adam Purvis who appeared in six contests are among returning players who may slot into that role. As a result the door may be open for a newcomer to play a key role up-top. Freshmen Adan Noel and Xavier Rajpaul who have played with the U-20 Trinidad and Tobago National Team are among the likely candidates.
Lundy stated, "We are looking forward to a very challenging fall season, as we play a great out of conference schedule and have the opportunity to work towards getting a bid into the NCAA tournament if we get some good results." Lundy added, "Our returners have really developed a great culture this past spring and I want it to translate to a great fall season."
The Cougars play an early schedule that many would say is not conducive to a team that is reloading and will likely have several younger players in key roles which means a learning curve. This is a team that will need to gel early and hit the ground running. The early schedule creates a great opportunity for on the job training so to speak and resume building which is a good thing but it may also make it difficult for an emerging team to find things to build on.
The C of C will open the 2013 campaign at home with games against Akron and Xavier. They then tangle with in-state foe Furman on the road. After hosting Vermont the Cougars will head west to face Stanford and California before returning home to begin CAA play when they host UNC Wilmington. Those early games will definitely give Lundy an opportunity to identify the strengths and weaknesses of his team and to prepare the Cougars for conference play.
Christian Jablonski – Midfield – Charleston, South Carolina – Wando High School – Played club for SC United Battery. Had eighteen goals and ten assists his senior season at Wando High School. All-State.
Brock King – Defender – Charleston, South Carolina – Wando High School – Played club for SC United Battery.
Erik Clark – Midfield – Charleston, South Carolina – Wando High School – Played club for SC United Battery. Region III ODP team. NSCAA All-Region. All-State.
Jake Currie – Midfield – Sheffield, England – Cloud County Community College – Played club soccer for Sheffield United. Helped Cloud County C.C. win the 2011 National Junior College Championship.
Brian Kilgallon – Goalkeeper – Boca Raton, Florida – Boca Raton Community High School – Plays for Team Boca. Three-time All-County selection.
Ike Crook – Midfield – Federal Way, Washington – Todd Beamer High School – Played club for Seattle Sounders Academy. Ranked by CSN as the 119th player in the class of 2013.
Adam Noel – Forward – La Brea, Trinidad – Naparima College – Played for the Trinidad and Tobago National Team. Named Naparima Athlete of the Year in 2011.
Christian Calloway – Defender – Simpsonville, South Carolina – JL Mann High School – Played club for Carolina Elite 94 Premier. South Carolina and Region III ODP teams.
Xavier Rajpaul – Forward – Port of Spain, Trinidad – Fatima College – Played for the Trinidad and Tobago National Team.