|School – Wright State|
|Conference – Horizon League|
|Coach – Bryan Davis (8th Season)|
Background – The Raiders were 12-8-1 overall last year posting their second consecutive twelve win season. They were 4-4-1 in league play which placed them in the number six spot in the ten member Horizon League at the conclusion of regular season play. They advanced to the championship game in the league tournament for the second consecutive season by topping Northern Kentucky and UIC, avenging regular season losses, before they were edged by Oakland 1-0 in the tournament final.
The trend line looks to be upward at Wright State as this is a program that has turned the corner in terms of developing a winning culture and menatality.
Forwards Peguy Ngatcha and Eric Lynch were 2015 All-Horizon League First Team selections. Midfielder Sam DeRoy was an All-Horizon League Second Team honoree. Midfielder Jackson Dietrich was named the 2015 Horizon League Freshman of the Year and defender Eric Hutton joined Dietrich on the Horizon League All-Freshmant Team.
Offense – The Raiders led the Horizon League last year in virtually every offensive statistic. The 2016 season should be more of the same with players who scored twenty-five of Wright State's thirty-two goals last year slated to return.
Forward Brett Elder (2g, 0a) who led the Raider offense in scoring in 2012 and 2013 and midfielder Marquis Payton (5g, 0a) are the lone players who found the back of the net last year who will not be back.
The attack should be powered up-top in 2016 by seniors Peguy Ngatcha (7g, 3a) and Eric Lynch (5g, 3a) who were 2015 All-Horizon First Team selections. Ngatcha, who has been a starter for the Raiders for the past two seasons, was tied for second last year in the Horizon League in both goals scored and points produced. Lynch, who will enter the 2016 season with three years of statring experience under his belt, was tied for seventh in the league in goals scored last year. Both are proven finishers with the ability to make good things happen when they have the ball at their feet in the attacking third. Junior Jalim Bayo (2g, 1a) and highly regarded sophomore Tristan Lyle are among other returning forwards who should contribute to the offense.
Alec Philippe, Elliot Cutts and Luke Treadway are among the newcomers who have a history of finding the back of the net on a consistent basis and should contribute to the attack sooner rather than later.
Wright State will enter the 2016 campaign without the services of starting midfielders Wes Cain and Marquis Payton but a very good group of attack oriented linkmen are slated to return. Senior Sam DeRoy (1g, 3a), junior A.J. Patterson (4g, 1a) who had an impressive spring season, and sophomore Jackson Dietrich (3g, 7a) were all starters last year who should hit the ground running in 2016. Senior Zach Zwiesler (1g, 1a) and junior Jeff Rhodes (0g, 1a) are among other returning midfielders who look to be in the mix for a greater role in 2016.
The Raiders look to be a team in 2016 with a multi-dimensional offense. They will have playrmakers with the ball control skills needed to maintain possession in order to find and exploit weaknesses in opposing defenses as well as the ability to strike quickly when the opportunity arises to mount a counter attack.
Defense – Last year the Raiders allowed a total of twenty-three goals. They recorded a total of eight clean sheets and finished the season with a 1.07 goals against average which was the fifth best among Horizon League teams.
Wright State will enter the 2016 season with gaps to plug due to the loss of Tyler Blackmeyer who was the starter for the past three seasons in goal and back Austin Polster who was a starter the past two seasons who elected to transfer.
Seniors Jake Stovall (1g, 0a) and Kaique Fernandes (1g, 0a) and sophomore Eric Hutton who were starters last year in the back provide a solid nucleus upon which to retool the defense. Senior Zach Zwiesler should also be in the hunt for a key role in the backline. Newcomer Dan Bent is an experienced back who could also challenge for minutes right away.
Seniors Will Lukowski who saw action in one contest last year and Ryan Pignatiello are among returning goalkeepers. Newcomer Joel Sundell from Sweden has a very high level of competitve experience and should also compete for the starting job between the pipes. .
Newcomers – Three and a half Star Recruiting Class
Elliot Curtis – Forward – Kent, England – Played for Herne Bay and the U-18 England School Boys National Team.
Dan Bent – Defender – Kent, England – Played at Reinhardt University in 2015 where he was a starer. Played with Corinthians FC and Gillingham FC.
Alec Philippe – Forward – Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Marquette High School – Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year. All-American and All-Midwest Region. State Co-Player of the Year.
Stefan Rokvic – Midfielder – Muskego, Wisconsin – Muskego High School – Played for FC Nationals. Played for the Chicago Fire Academy.
Joel Sundell – Goalkeeper – Norrkoping, Sweden – Played for IF Sylvia.
Joe Schauer – Midfielder – Whitnall, Wisconsin – Whitnall High School – Honorable Mention All-State. Woodland Conference Player of the Year. Had 101 career goals at Witnall High School. Played for Croatian Eagles Soccer Club.
Zach Burgmeler – Midfielder – Vandalia, Ohio – Butler High School – Greater Western Ohio Conference Player of the Year. Miami Valleyt Player of the Year. First Team All-State.
Alex Williams – Goalkeeper – Troy, Ohio – Troy High School – Second Team All-GWOC North Division selection. Second Team Division I All-Dayton North.
Luke Treadway – Forward – Edewood, Kentucky – Scott High School – Transfer from Kentucky were he appeared in one contest last year. Kentucky Enquirer Player of the Year in 2014.
Prognosis for 2016 – With so many key players returning including two First-Team All-Horizon League forwards the Raiders should see improvement again in 2016.
The offense has the potential to again be the most productive in the Horizon League. Forwards Peguy Ngatcha and Eric Lynch are the real deal. They are among the most expolsive offensive players at their positions in the league and give the Raiders what should be a dynamic duo up-top.
The midfield should be a team strength although the departure of Wes Cain and Marquis Payton does creates gaps that must be plugged. With a year of experience under his belt, sophomore midfielder Jackson Dietrich (3g, 7a) is capable of being a team catalyst. Senior midfielder Sam DeRoy and junior A.J. Paterson are among those who should add additional punch to the offense.
Overall the defense was pretty solid last year but on occassion there were costly lapses in play. Reducing such lapses is among the critical success factors in 2016. Filling the shoes of Tyler Blackmer who was the starter in goal for the past three seasons will no doubt be high on Coach Davis' list of priorities.
Wright States 4-4-1 record in Horizon League play last year was not overly impressive and placed them in the middle of the pack during regular season play. However, given the fact that the the Raiders have advanced to the final in the conference tournament for the past two seasons, it is clear that that on a given night they can hold their on with anyone in the league. The unanswered question is whether or not they can do that on a consistent basis.
The 2016 squad looks to be among the strongest if not the strongest team from top to bottom that Coach Davis has put on the pitch to date at Wright State. For the Raiders dreams of winning the Horizon League Championship and earning a berth in the NCAA Tourney to become reality, they will need to achieve a level of consistency and toughness that is not always easy to attain.
Seniors like forwards Ngatcha and Lynch, midfielder DeRoy and back Jake Stovall will need to set the pace and the unanswered questions like the play in goal must be favorably resolved. If that occurs the Raiders could shine in 2016.