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High Point University. Expectations High Heading Into The 2023 Season.

Solid Contingent Of Veterans Return Supplemented By A Seven Member Recruiting Class

Coach – Zach Haines – 5th season
Conference – Big South Conference
2022 Record – 11-5-5 overall, 5-0-3 in conference
2022 National Ranking – United Soccer Coaches not ranked, College Soccer News Received Votes
Five Year Win Total
2022 – 11
2021 – 8
2020 – 12
2019 – 13
2018 – 13
Key Departures

Holden Trent – Goalkeeper – A three-year starter. 2022 Big South Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021 and 2022. Big South All-Conference First Team selection 2020, 2021 and 2023. 2022 team captain. Appeared in a total of 52 games over three seasons with 52 starts. Had a 1.00 career goals against average and 22 career shutouts.

Holland Rula – Defender – A 2022 graduate student transfer from Wake Forest where he played for four seasons. Appeared in 19 games with 17 starts for HPU in 2022.

Lalas Ayertay – Midfielder – Appeared in 62 games with 56 starts over five seasons. A three-year starter. 2022 All-Big South Second Team. 2021 All-Big South First Team. 2018 All-Big South Freshman Team selection.

Sebastian Chalbaud – Forward – All-Big South First Team selection in 2020 and 2022. All-Big South Second Team selection in 2021. Appeared in a total of 53 games with 51 starts for HPU over three seasons. Had 18 goals and nine assists over three seasons at HPU. Played for Stetson in 2018 and 2019 before transferring to High Point in 2020.
2023 Outlook

High Point University heads into the 2023 season with a ton of positive energy and momentum and their sights set on building on a very productive 2022 season. The Panthers are the clear frontrunners in the Big South Conference in 2023. They also have the talent, experience and depth to be a factor on the national scene.

Seven starters return along with a contingent of players who saw significant minutes last year supplemented by a recruiting class that includes several players who are capable of making an immediate contribution. The healthy return of graduate student forward Tony Pineda (2g, 0a) who missed most of the 2022 season due to injury and graduate student midfielder Alex Abril who missed the entire season due to injury is an added plus.

The offense should be explosive in 2023. Graduate student Noah Holmes (11g, 7a), a 2022 Big South First Team selection, returns to give HPU a powerful presence up top. His athleticism sparked the offense last year and should again create matchup problems for opponents in 2023. Seniors Kaya Ignacio (4g, 3a) and Caco Fernandez who missed the 2022 season due to injury along with a healthy Tony Pineda who has displayed big play ability in the past return to add another dimension to the attack up top. Junior forward Larson Rula (1g, 1a), redshirt senior Ashton Perkins (2g, 0a) and sophomore Matt Brucker are among other returning players who look to be in the mix. Also keep an eye on freshman winger Darian Castillo, a proficient goal scorer in MLS Next U19 at the Barca Academy. Castillo is among the newcomers who could add punch to the attack.

Sophomore center midfielder Jefferson Amaya (5g, 4a), the 2022 Big South Freshman of the Year, Big South First Team Selection and College Soccer News First Team All-Freshman selection, returns to add firepower and stability to the midfield with the added benefit of a year of starting experience under his belt. Graduate student Alex Abril, sophomore Brendan Krueger (1g, 5a), juniors Jackson Ruckman (0g, 2a) and Tanner Rothenberger, redshirt senior Davis Biggerstaff (0g, 2a), redshirt freshman Aidan Abril (2g, 3a) and sophomore Caleb Britt round out a talented and deep contingent of returning midfielders. Graduate student center midfielder Seth Antwi, a transfer from Dayton, is among the members of the recruiting class who should make an immediate contribution.

The backline looks to be in good shape led by senior center back Finn McRobb (1g, 1a), a four-year starter and three-time All-Big South First Team selection, and graduate student defender Karson Kendall (2g, 1a), a 2022 All Big-South Second Team member and four-year starter. Senior Cooper Lindfelt (0g, 2a) and sophomores Beau Yantz (0g, 1a) and Nick Herb are among other returning backs who will seek to play a greater role in 2023. Graduate student transfer Ben Wiemann is among the newcomers who should be in the hunt for a starting role.

The Panthers have a big hole to plug on the defensive side of the ball due to the departure of team captain Holden Trent who was a three-time Big South First Team selection and the Big South Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021 and 2022. Filing Trent’s shoes creates an unanswered question that must be addressed. To what extent will someone else be able to replicate the shot stopping ability that goalkeeper Trent brought to the pitch? The answer to that question will go a long way toward determining the Panthers fate in 2023. Returning netminders sophomore Josh Caron and redshirt freshman Luke Snyder and freshman newcomer Justin Stewart are among the contenders who will vie for the all important starting job between the pipes.

Optimism is high for what may be the strongest team from top to bottom that Zach Haines has had in the four seasons to date that he has been the HPU head coach. HPU’s roster includes 11 seniors and graduate students as well as a good number of younger players who will be key contributors.

The Panthers won the Big South Championship last year for the second time in the last three seasons and the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament that accompanies it. They also secured the program’s first ever win in the NCAA Tournament. A regular season win on the road over Big Ten foe Maryland and an NCAA Tourney win over North Carolina were signature non conference wins.

If the Panthers take it one game at a time and if everything falls into place, the program could take another big step forward in 2023. HPU opens the season with a game on the road against in-state foe Davidson followed by matches at home against Saint Peter’s and Evansville. They then travel to face Marshall before returning to Vert Stadium to host in state foes Elon and UNCG. The early season contests against Marshall, Elon and UNCG will test the Panthers.
Newcomers – Zack Haines stated, “They will add depth, competition and quality to our team. We are aiming to build on last year’s program milestones, and this class will certainly help us move things forward.”

Ben Wiemann – Defender – Freiburg, Germany – A graduate student transfer from Lake Erie College where he was a three-year starter. Named to the 2022 United Soccer Coaches All-Region Team. 2022 G-MAC First Team All-Conference and All-Ohio Team. 2022 Finalist for USL-2 Player of the Year and Defender of the Year with NC Fusion.

Seth Antwi – Midfielder – Kuntanase, Ashanti Region – A graduate student transfer from Dayton where he appeared in 54 games with 46 starts over four seasons. 2021 Second Team All-Ohio.

Darian Castillo – Forward – San Luis, Arizona – Barca Residency Academy – Had 16 goals in 2020 games with Barca Academy in MLS Next in 2022 season.

Anthony Ramirez – Midfielder – Thomasville, North Carolina – Philadelphia Union Academy – Played for Philadelphia Union II in MLS Next Pro.

Justin Steward – Goalkeeper – Little Elm, Texas – North Texas SC – Houston Dynamo Academy. MLS Next Pro.

James VandeHei – Defender – Alexandria, Virginia – Alexandria SA – Played for Alexandria MLS Next. Team captain. Virginia State ODP team 2017-2019.

John Kilgore – Defender – Hobe Sound, Florida – Played for Tampa Bay United MLS Next. Captained IMG MLS Next Team in his junior year.
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Posted in 2023 Team Reviews

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