GOSHEN, Ind. – Looking to win its first season opener since the 2009 season, the Goshen College men's soccer team opens its 2012 season at Siena Heights University tonight.
After losing six starters to graduation, head coach Tavi Mounsithiraj's lineup will have a different look, but that hasn't kept him from being confident that they can improve on a fourth-place finish of 10-8 (5-4 MCC) from a year ago.
"I am pretty excited about our team because we have lots of experienced players, plus we have a good group of recruits that can contribute to our program right away," Mounsithiraj explained.
One of the keys for the Maple Leafs will be consistent scoring. Last year, when they scored two or more goals, they racked up an impressive 10-1 mark. In games when they scored just one or were shutout, they went 0-7.
The task will be even harder without two-time all conference frontman Jan Dohnal who led the team with 13 goals over the last two seasons. Mounsithiraj, though, has a very balanced attack with a flurry of players who he will rely on to step up and find the back of the net.
"We have got to find ways to score goals and we will do that by balancing it out a little bit," Mounsithiraj continued. "Consistency is the most important part. It starts in practice when we need to be a little more focused and disciplined and learn how to execute out system."
The other challenge for Goshen and Mounsithiraj is blending a roster with more than 40 players, representing an incredible 15 countries.
"The thing that can make a difference for us is that we gel as a team," the 12th-year head coach explained. "We recruit lots of individuals, lot of talented players, but at the end of the day, we have to play together as a team and that is our main goal. If we can somehow put it together and realize that we are all playing for one cause, we are going to win a lot of matches."
Up front, 2009 all conference pick Daniel Martin headlines a group of diverse strikers. Also likely to see ample time up front are Jacob Yoder, Mahomed Meissara, Joe Gunden, and newcomer Joel Pepala.
After opening the season on the road, the Maple Leaf will play seven straight at the Goshen College Soccer Complex, all outside of the Crossroads League. They then open CL play on September 22 at Spring Arbor.