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Hagerstown C.C. Men's Soccer 2011 Season Preview 

Hagerstown, Md. - After jumping out to a 6-0-0 start in 2010, the Hagerstown Community College men’s soccer team struggled with their remaining schedule, finishing the season 10-9-1. Coaches Brian Eichelberger and Brandon Rethemeyer have the Hawks focused on a fresh start in 2011.

“I think last year our immediate success got to us and it ultimately cost us a few games down the stretch,” stated Head Coach Brian Eichelberger. “This year, our preseason has been very competitive, because the returners are still frustrated on how the last game of the season finished. Our team has already put in a great deal of hard work and the expectations are set quite high for this season.”

In order to return to their winning ways, Eichelberger and Rethemeyer know that their new recruits must be prepared to step on the field and compete right away. After the team after recently coming over from Kosovo. Payne, a local area talent, amassed 25 goals and 19 assists during his time at Williamsport High Slosing 16 players from last year, the Hawks return just five. “We knew what we were faced with this year and our goal in the off season was to recruit talent that can start right away,” mentioned Eichelberger.

Defensively, the Hawks will look completely different, starting with the goalkeeper, as two-year starter Brian Kukucka graduated and moved onto Frostburg State University. An open competition between freshmen Chip Rittenhouse (Hagerstown, Md./South), Kenny Frederickson (Hagerstown, Md./Grace Academy), and Fredy Velasquez (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora) will determine who starts in net this season. Sophomore Daniel Lennox (Frederick, Md./Urbana)is the lone returning starter on the back line for HCC. Fellow classmate Sean Koontz (Hagerstown, Md./Grace Academy), who saw action in 15 games last year, will compete at center back with incoming freshman Josh Fahlfeder (Monrovia, Md./Urbana). Freshman Devin Repp (Clear Spring, Md./Clear Spring) will look to compete right away in the back as well, with Nathan Pryor (Smithsburg, Md./Smithsburg).

“With a crop of new players in defense, this preseason we are really preparing them for what they will expect to see from the college game,” said Eichelberger. “We lost our core unit to graduation, but I expect this group to succeed, based on their playing experience at major high schools and with clubs.”

Eichelberger will call upon freshman Nelson Moreno (Hagerstown, Md./North) to anchor the midfield. Moreno netted six goals and added six assists his senior year at North High. Several returning Hawks will also contribute at multiple roles in the midfield. Sophomore’s Garrett Hajjar (Frederick, Md./Urbana) and Zack Morgan (Greencastle, Pa./Grace Academy), who combined for 22 goals last year, will move to the midfield where their experience will be needed to organize the team’s shape. Gabe Hirsh (Hagerstown, Md./Broadfording) will also switch to midfield this season to provide depth. Freshmen Mamadou Jallow (Frederick, Md./Thomas Johnson) and Alex Sanchez (Chambersburg, Pa./Chambersburg Area) will be called upon to make immediate contributions in the midfield. Fellow classmates Chucky Kipe (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora), Daniel Doub (Williamsport, Md./Williamsport), and Garrett Cook (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora) are all capable of seeing a great deal of playing time in their first season with the team. The Hawks welcome back Mark Vomend (Hagerstown, Md./Smithsburg) to the midfield, which spent some time away from the team.

“Our entire midfield shares the same vision and abilities, which is rarely seen,” stated Eichelberger. “Their undying will to win, combined with their natural talents will make for a dangerous combination and it will propel the rest of the team.”

On offense, Eichelberger will look towards newcomers Justin Yates (Adamstown, Md./Tuscarora),Genc Sopa (Kosovo/Kosovo), Jordan Payne (Williamsport, Md./Williamsport), and Spencer Horst (Hagerstown, Md./Grace Academy)  to put the ball in the back of the net. Yates, a standout player from Frederick County finished his high school career with 87 points, on 26 goals and 35 assists, while Sopa joins chool. Horst won the NACA Division II National Title, while playing Grace Academy and helping them to a 25-2-1 overall record in 2009.

“Justin has a knack for scoring goals, while Genc brings creativity up front,” said Eichelberger. “Payne has natural speed and Horst has great experience, so the combination of each player can strike fear in opposing defenders.”

Once again, the Hawks road to success will not be easy. In addition to a highly competitive MDJUCO schedule, the Hawks’ non-conference schedule is full of challenging opponents, including Essex County College and Delaware Tech.

“Our non-conference schedule is extremely challenging, but it is exactly what we need to prepare for conference play,” said Eichelberger. “Last season, including us, six of 13 MDJUCO teams were ranked and I expect the same to hold true this year.”

Overall, Eichelberger believes his team is capable of being an NJCAA Region XX Championship contender.

“We’re looking at this season as a fresh start because we have so many new players,” said Eichelberger. “We’ve adapted our style of play to fit this team and our success will depend primarily on how well our new guys can adjust to the college game.”

Hagerstown Community College opens the 2011 season by traveling to MDJUCO opponent Montgomery Community College on August 29.