Approaching a new season, it never hurts for a team to have a plan.
As it happens, the Skidmore College men's soccer team has a plan with a pretty basic blueprint - putting the ball in the net.
Last year, the Thoroughbreds were solid on defense, allowing 21 goals in 18 games en route to a 7-10-1 record. Of the 10 losses for Skidmore (3-4-1 in Liberty League), six were by one goal.
"We're going to change our formation a little bit," said 13th-year Skidmore coach Ron McEachen. "I think what happens is that if you play a 4-5-1 (set), the mentality becomes defensive. This year we're going to be more attack oriented.
"Last year, we gave up 21 goals in 18 games which should signify you should be 12-5-1 or something, but we ended up 7-10-1."
Leading the group of returnees is defender and senior captain Brian Mitko (Clinton, Ct.) and fellow four-year starter defender Marcus Goldbas (Cape Elizabeth, ME.). Also back are senior Aaron Krepack (Mill Valley, CA.) and sophomore Brock Bakewell (Tucson, AZ.), who shared the team scoring lead a year ago with four goals.
"We've got another guy back who transferred from Trinity, Joe Phalen," McEachen said. "But the key is going to be a young Jamaican player, Adam Beck. One of his countrymen (freshman) Mario Hyman is coming in as well, so we think they'll be key guys as we look at it right now."
On the other end of the field, one of three freshmen will be in goal for the Thoroughbreds. Either Eli Kisselbach (Stamford, CT.), Danny Eberstein (Richmond, VT.) or Lucas Zornosa (Lexington, MA.) will replace the graduated Nick Peterson, who allowed 18 goals last year for a 1.09 goals against average to go with a .780 save percentage.
"We have a veteran defense and a pretty good midfield," McEachen said. "We'll see how we do, but we have to score goals."
Looking at Liberty League play this fall, McEachen has a pretty good idea of what's in front of the Thoroughbreds - it's a pretty short list.
"Obviously there are two teams that stand out - that pretty much either win it or go into the second or third round of the NCAA - Hobart and St. Lawrence," he said. "Then there are the rest of us. We've been fifth the last couple years and kind of hoping somebody would knock off someone for us."
For Skidmore to knock the proverbial door down to the Liberty League first division, McEachen thinks there's one important factor that could make a difference - condition.
"Last year we were playing our best at the end because we got fit," he said. "This year we came in fitter - that's part of the piece we needed to have. It's a good group and we're excited about what's going to transpire this fall."
Opening the season on the road, Skidmore will play its first home match of the year Sept. 12 hosting Bard College.
Don Willman is a seasoned sports writer, with more than 15 years of experience as an editor and reporter. He is the Sports Editor for Saratoga Wire
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