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Winthrop 2014 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – Winthrop
Conference – Big South
Coach – Rich Posipanko (26th Season)
Background – The Eagles entered the 2013 season with the momentum of having won the 2012 Big South Conference Tournament, having secured the program's fifth invite to the NCAA Tournament, and having advanced past SMU in a penalty kick shootout in the NCAA Tourney before losing to Louisville.  It was a tale of two seasons for the Eagles who began the 2013 season hotter than the fourth of July with an impressive 7-0-1 mark in the month of September but they were subsequently hobbled by injuries and went 4-7-0 for the remainder of the campaign to finish with an 11-7-1 overall record and a 5-5-0 mark in conference play. Veteran head coach Posipanko has created a winning tradition at Winthrop and is ranked seventh among Division I active coaches in total victories.  
Offense –  Winthrop must replace four out of its five top goal scores from last year including All-Big South First Team selection forward Achille Obougou (10g, 3a) who led the Eagles in scoring last year and midfielder Adam Brundle (2g, 5a),  Both Obougou and Brundle were 2013 All-Big South Second Team selections. While there are several unknowns relating to Winthrop's offensive productivity heading into the 2014 season, the one certainty is sophomore forward Max Hasenstab (9g, 5a) who was the 2013 Big South Freshman of the Year and a College Soccer News All-Freshman Third Team selection.  Hasenstab, who had four game winning goals last year, is a prolific finisher who will be at the heart of the Eagle attack in 2014. The other players who could be difference makers on the offensive side of the ball for Winthrop in 2014 are long on talent but short on Division I collegiate experience. Junior transfer Jordan Stoddart who netted twenty-two goals and recorded fourteen assists in two seasons at Herkimer Junior College is a goal scorer and could contribute immediately. A pair of freshmen forwards, Charles Coulson and Sam Schmidt, could also figure prominently in the mix up-top. Both are highly regarded playmakers with impressive resumes at the high school and club level who appear to have the potential to make an immediate contribution but the bottom line is that both are unproven and untested at the Division I level. Posipanko will be without several players who saw a great deal of action in the midfield last year but he will have a solid core of returning midfielders to build on. Junior midfielder Magnus Thorsson (1g, 2a) is a rock solid linkman who will likely be relied upon as a defensive midfielder but he could also add a scoring spark. Juniors Patrick Barnes (2g, 3a) and C.J. Miller (1g, 1a), and senior Pol Sole (2g, 2a) who missed a large part of the 2013 season due to injury are among other returning midfielders who should see plenty of playing time once again in 2014.       
Defense–  While Posipanko faces the challenge on the offensive side of the ball of incorporating new parts and getting them to blend with those already in place; that is not the case on the defensive side of the ball where a solid cast of experienced players returns. The Eagles will have plenty of talent and experience returning in the back and in goal from a team that allowed a total of only twenty-one goals last year.   Junior center back Jordi Lluch who has been a starter for the past two seasons and sophomore Pietro Bottari who was named to the Big South All-Freshman Team last year will anchor what should be a very solid Winthrop defense. Senior Cody Winter, juniors Josh Choice and Kyle Kennedy and senior Jon Simic round out a very solid and deep contingent of backs. Freshman Andrew Raad should also be in the hunt for playing time in the back or in the midfield. Senior Guilherme, who was the starter between the pipes last year, returns in goal along with junior Fabian Broich who saw action in seven contests last year.             

Newcomers – Three and A Half Star Recruiting Class 

Charles Coulson – Forward – Rock Hill, South Carolina – Rock Hill High School – Played for Charlotte Soccer Academy and South Carolina Battery.  Scored 25 goals and contribured 7 assists in 2013 at Rock Hill High.  South Carolina ODP team. 

Jonathan Cutrone – Midfield – Fort Mill, South Carolina – Fort Mill High School – Played for Discoveries Soccer Club and Carolina Elite Soccer Academy.  

Dakota Hawkins – Defender – Florence, South Carolina – Wilson High School – Played for South Carolina United Battery.

Andrew Raad – Defender – Rock Hill, South Carolina – Rock Hill High School – Played for South Carolina Battery.  Region III ODP team.

Zack Smythe – Defender – Columbia, Maryland – Wilde Lake High School – Played club for Soccer Association of Columbia.  Maryland and Region I ODP team.  

Sam Schmidt –  Forward – Davidsonville, Maryland – Annapolis Area Christian School – Won a state title at DeMatha High School.  Played for Bethesda-Olney.   

Sal Perez – Midfield – Orlando, Florida – Played for St.Mary's Shattuck Academy.

Benji Pullen – Midfield – Chesterfield, Virginia – Cosby High School – Played for the Richmond Kickers.

Jordan Stoddart – Forward – Brampton,Ontario, Canada – Junior transfer from Herkimer Junior College.  Scored 22 goals and contributred 14 assists in two seasons at Herkimer.  2012 NSCAA All-East Region Team.

Kento Ito – Midfield – Queensland, Australia – Southport School – U-18 and U-20 Palm Beach SC Team.  

Prognosis for 2014 – Winthrop returns twenty players including nine starters from the 2013 team.  If everything falls into place the Eagles will be an athletic team that will feature an up-tempo offense and a pressure oriented style of defense.  Hasenstab will be the tone-setter on the offensive side of the ball but it remains to be seen how much his game has improved after a year of experience and whether or not someone else will emerge to help fill the void that Obougu's departure creates and provide the balance and diversity needed for an effective attack.  Although Winthrop's roster includes several talented forwards, the bottom line is that with the exception of Hasenstab they are untested and unproven at the Division I level.  The midfield led by Magnus Thorrson looks to be very promising and the backline led by junior Jordi Lluch should be very good. If the Eagles can avoid the injuries that plagued them during the second half of the season last year and if some of the newcomers are able to add an additional dimension to the offense there is every reason to believe that this is a team that will be much improved in 2014 and back in the thick of the hunt for the Big South Conference title.   
Posted in 2014 Team Reviews

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