Furman – Four and A Half Star Recruiting Class – Last year Furman was 12-4-3 overall with a 4-2-1 record in Southern Conference play. Not a bad record for sure but clearly one that was less than expected for a program that had five 2012 All-Southern Conference First Team members. During the second half of the 2012 season the Paladins were defeated 1-0 by Elon on the road, they were topped 1-0 by old nemesis UNC Greensboro at home and tied both East Tennessee State and Appalachian State in the friendly confines of Stone Stadium. Add to that a season ending 2-1 loss to number seven seed Wofford in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Tournament and it spells underachieve. With the talent and level of experience that Furman had on board last year anything less than an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament and making it to the championship match of the Southern Conference Tournament was a disappointment.
Doug Allison has recorded a total of 236 wins during his eighteen seasons to date at Furman. In other words, he knows what he is doing. Allison also does extremely well on the recruiting trail as reflected in the level of talent that annually makes its way to Greenville. The arrival of an eight member 2013 recruiting class that includes four players ranked by College Soccer News as among the top 150 players in the class of 2013 is a big plus.
The cupboard is far from bare at Furman heading into the 2013 campaign but Allison does have some reloading to do due to graduation and the decision of All-American defender Walker Zimmerman (6g, 3a) to leave early to take his game to the professional ranks. A solid nucleus returns upon which to build but a few of the new additions will need to contribute immediately if the Paladins hope to have a shot at returning to the NCAA Tourney field in 2013.
Departures due to graduation include First Team All-Southern Conference forward Coleton Henning (8g, 1a) who was the 2011 Conference Player of the Year, midfielder Danny Hojaij (1g, 6a), First-Team All-Southern Conference center back Nicky MacKain, backs Amadu Ndiaye and Alex Crooks, and goalkeeper Doug Ryan.
Furman will be led in 2013 by All-Southern Conference First Team members senior Martin Ontiveros and senior Michael Gandier. They also return Tyler Peoples, Tony Santibanez, and Eric Steber who were 2012 Southern Conference All-Freshman Team selections. The biggest question marks facing Allison in 2013 pertain to who is going to fill the offensive gap up-top that the departure of Henning creates and who will replace the void in the back that exists at center back due to the loss of MacKain and Zimmerman.
Ontiveros (8g, 9a,), sophomore Chris Duggan (0g, 1a), and redshirt sophomore Adrian McInnis (0g, 4a) are among returning players who appear to be options up-top. Newcomers Evan De Yeaza out of the CASL Chelsea Academy and Bobby Edet out of the FC Dallas Academy could also contribute immediately at the forward position.
The Paladin midfield looks to be a team strength with Allison having a lot of choices regarding how he utilizes his players. Ontiveros, who adds an additional dimension to the attack out of set pieces, Peoples (4g, 0a), Gandier (5g, 1a), whose athleticism adds a much needed physical presence to the pitch, Santibanez (0g, 3a) and junior Clint Ritter (2g, 2a) will clearly be in the mix. Add highly regarded redshirt sophomore Kevin Pahl (1g, 2a), senior Josh Fusan (0g, 2a), and senior Josh Lietch to the group and you have a very talented and deep bunch of linkmen.
Senior right back Jacob Brown who has been a starter for the past three seasons and redshirt sophomore Eric Steber who was the starter last year at left back return to anchor the backline. Senior John Lung'aho should also be in the hunt for playing time in the back in 2013. Redshirt freshman Bennett York and incoming freshman Trevor Haberkorn who is an NSCAA Youth All-American and the starting center back for the U.S. U-18 Men's National Team are among the likely candidates to fill the vacant center back positions.
Sophomore Sven Lissek from Sewau, Germany who saw action in four contests in goal last year returns along with redshirt sophomore Trent Johnson who appeared in two matches. Newcomer Joseph Melong out of the Shattuck-St. Mary's Soccer Academy could also push for playing time between the pipes.
No matter how you spin it, Furman took a slight step backward last year. After returning to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 for the first time since 2007 they failed to play to their potential in 2012, Allison will no doubt field a competitive team but despite the talent on the roster they belong in the wait and see category heading into the 2013 campaign. Furman's success in 2013 likely hinges on the productivity of seniors Ontiveros, Gandier and Brown, the quality of play in goal, the continued development of the sophomore class, and the ability of a few of the newcomers to be difference makers.
Evan De Ycaza – Forward – Cary, North Carolina – Apex High School -CASL Chelsea Academy. Ranked by College Soccer News as the #75 recruit in the class of 2013.
Bobby Edet – Forward – Frisco, Texas – Liberty High School – Played club with FC Dallas Academy. Ranked #28 recruit in the class of 2013 by College Soccer News.
Trevor Haberkorn – Defender – Keller, Texas – Keller High School – U.S. U-18 Men's National Team. NSCAA Youth All-American. Ranked by College Soccer News as the #25 recruit in the class of 2013.
Joseph Melong -Goalkeeper -Winnipeg, Manitoba -Shattuck-St. Mary's – Ranked by College Soccer News as the #131 recruit in the class of 2013.
Wellford Moore -Defender -Birmingham, Alabama -Westminster School of Oak Mountain -Two-time All-County selection. 2012 All-Metro. Plays club for Vestavia Hills SC. Member Region III ODP team.
Marco Ortiz – Midfielder -Fort Worth, Texas – Liberty High School – FC Dallas Academy. Helped FC Dallas to a 30-4-4 record and Texas Division championship in 2012.
Eli Pinner – Midfielder -Atlanta, Georgia -Paideia School – Played club for GSA '96 Phoenix Red. Named to the "Best XI at the USYS National Championships. Member Region III ODP team.
Dylan Rowe – Defender -New Braunfels, Texas – New Braunfels High School – Guided high school team to three consecutive playoff appearances. All-District selection. Plays club for Classics Elite U-17/U-18.