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Winthrop 2015 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – Winthrop University
Conference – Big South
Coach – Rich Posipanko (27th Season)
Background – This is a program with a winning traditioin. Under Posipanko's direction the Eagles have averaged over ten wins per season. Winthrop was 13-4-2 overall in 2014 with a 6-2-1 mark in conference play. They were 12-9-1 overall in 2013. In 2012 they were 12-9-2 overall and won the Big South Tournament as well as a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time. The Eagles had fifteen win seasons in 2002 and 2006. Winthrop annually has an up-tempo and high powered offense as demonstated in the fact that in 2014 they finished third nationally in average goals scored per game. Attacking midfielder Pol Sole, defensive midfielder Magnus Thorsson, forward Max Hasenstab, and defender Jordi Lluch were 2014 All-Big South First Team selections. Forward Charles Coulson was named to the Big South All-Freshman Team.  
Offense – Four of Winthrop's top five goal scorers from the 2014 team that finished third in the country in goals scored per game (2.32) and tied for fourth in the country in total goals (44) are slated to return in 2015. The key void to address exists due to the graduation of attacking midfielder Pol Sol (7g, 8a) who was the catalyst last year on the offensive side of the ball. Winthrop also with the without the services of midfielders Cody Winter (0g, 5a) and Sean Comer (1g,1a) who have graduated. On the plus side of the ledger, senior forward Max Hasenstab (12g, 3a) who was the Eagle's top goal scorer and point producer last year, despite missing five games, returns to power the offense again in 2015. Hasenstab is a big time finisher and a legitimate contender for the 2015 Big South Attacking Player of the Year. Senior Jordan Stoddart (4g, 1a) and sophomore Charles Coulson (5g, 0a) who were starters last year also return up-top to give Winthrop a multi-dimensional and dangerous attack. The midfield will require some retooling however the good news is that Posipanko will have a solid core group of returning midfielders to work with and reinforcements are on their way to Rock Hill in the form of a recruiting class that includes several midfielders who appear to have the potential to hit the ground running. Senior defensive midfielder Magnus Thorsson (6g, 2a) from Iceland who is also a threat on the offensive side of the ball and senior midfielder Patrick Barnes (2g, 3a) from Nova Scotia return to provide a rock solid foundation upon which to build. Both Thorsson and Barnes have been starters for the past three seasons. Junior James Skonicki (1g, 1a) and senior Nate Schmidt also return and look to figure prominently in the midfield in 2015. Sophomore Zack Smythe is among other returning linkmen who will seek to play a greater role in 2015. Newcomer graduate student midfielder Marco Gatzke from Germany looks to have all the ingredients to contribute immediately. Ditto that for sophomore Nils Vinyals Ciero who transfers in from Union University in Tennessee where he was a First Team All-Gulf Coast Conference selection last year. Evan Stout out of the Indiana Fire Juniors Academy and holding midfielder Sebastian Amaya out of the Sigma Soccer Club are among the incoming freshmen who should provide depth in the midfied and challenge for minutes.       
Defense – The backline looks to be strong and experienced. The only loss due to graduation is back Josh Choice who started eight contests last year. Senior captain Jordi Lluch (0g, 4a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons returns to anchor the backline.  He will be joined by fellow senior center back Kyle Kennedy (0g, 1a) who also has been in the starting lineup for the past three seasons. Senior back C.J. Miller and junior back Pietro Bottari (0g, 1a) who each have two years of starting experience under their belts also return. Sophomore Andrew Raad who hails from Rock Hill and saw action in three contests last year is among other returning backs who will seek to up their playing time in 2015. Sophomore defender Alvin Fonkoua who transfers in from Montgomery College in Maryland is among the newcomers who should be in the hunt for minutes. Winthrop will be without goalkeeper Guilherme Avelar due to graduation. Avelar participated in eleven contests last year.  Returning netminders include senior Fabian Broich who appeared in nine matches in 2014 with a 0.64 goals against average and redshirt sophomore Hector Fernandez who saw action in three matches with a 1.26 goals against average.   

Newcomers – Three Star Recruiting Class 

Coach Posipanko stated, "Our initial plan was to bring in five players, but inthe end we doubled this class. We certainly increased the overall depth and competitive level at every position on the field."

Brandon Anselmo – Forward – Mint Hill, North Carolina – Independence High School – Played for the Carolina Rapids. Previously played with Charlotte Soccer Academy. Four-year starter in high school.

Nils Vinyals Ciero – Midfielder – Barcelona, Spain – St. Paul's School – Sophomore transfer from Union University in Tennessee where he was a First Team All-Gulf South Conference selection.. 

Alvin Fonkoua – Midfielder – Douala, Cameroon – Montgomery College – Sophomore transfer. Played with Cameroon U-20 team. Played with Potomac Academy for two years.  

Marco Gatzke – Midfielder – Nottuln, Germany – University of Applied Arts and Science – Played with SC Pressen Muster. Will be graduate student. 

Henry Mills – Goalkeeper – Frederick, Maryland – Tuscarora High School – Sophomore transfer from Hood College where he had fifteen starts as a freshman. Played for FC Frederick. Member of the Maryland ODP team. 

Miles Rapp – Midfielder – Dinwiddie, Virginia – Dinwiddie High School – Played for Chesterfield United. Played for Chesterfield NPSL team. Member of Virginia ODP team.  

Evan Stout – Midfielder – Indianapolis,Indiana – Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School – Played for the Indiana Fire Juniors Academy. Team captain. Indiana ODP team member. 

John Twohig – Goalkeeper – Los Ranchos, New Mexico – Santa Fe Preparatory School – Played for the New Mexico Rush. Played as guest player for the Ohio Galaxies. High School team was three-time state champion. 

Phillip Brazell – Forward – Greer, South Carolina – Riverside High School – Played club for CESA. Led team in goal scoring.

Sebastian Amaya – Midfielder – Mississauga, Ontario – St. Aloyaius High School – Played for the Sigma Soccer Club. 

Prognosis for 2015 – The Eagles look to be a very competitive side in 2015 with nine starters slated to return including 2014 All-Big South First Team selections forward Max Hasenstab, defensive midfielder Magnus Thorsson, and back Jordi Lluch. Winthrop should not have any problems on the offensive side of the ball with senior Hasenstab, sophomore Charles Coulson, and senior Jordan Stoddart returning up-top. The biggest challenge facing Winthrop heading into the 2015 will be replacing attacking midfielder Pol Sole and sorting out the best combination of linkmen. The Eagle attack pretty much went through Sole last year. It remains to be seen who will fill that role in 2015 and just how long it will take for the Winthrop midfield to gel. The return of Thorsson and fellow senior Patrick Barnes in the midfield is a big plus. Newcomer Marco Gatzke from Germany who will be a graduate student at Winthrop could prove to be the answer to the attacking midfielder void. The backline should be very solid in 2015 with four starters returning led by veterans Lluch and Kyle Kennedy who have been starters for the past three years seasons. The Big South Conference race should be very competitive again in 2015. Coastal Carolina has won the Big South Conference Tournament three times in the past five seasons and has become the team to beat in conference play. However last year Radford, High Point, Winthrop and Liberty in addition to Coastal Carolina all had winning seasons. It is not going to be easy but given the level of talent Winthrop returns on both sides of the ball in 2015, their depth, and their experience, the Eagles should have their eyes on nothing less than the Big South Title and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.    
Posted in 2015 Team Reviews

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