By Jason Camey
After a 5-10-2 campaign in 2011, many of the players on the Grinnell men’s soccer team are looking forward to the upcoming season. Despite many strong returners, the team is looking to fill holes left by some of last year’s seniors.
The class of 2012 graduated several players, including starting goalkeeper Greg Fox, leading scorer Bozo Susac and leaders Charlie Kessner and Evan Wright.
“[We fill holes] with recruiting and … with developing players,” said Head Coach Brian Jaworski.
Jaworski understands the logistics of losing great players, but he also realizes that you can’t live in the past.
“It’s a new team,” Jaworski said.
“This is a new year…a fresh start,” said midfielder and captain Pun Winichakul ’13.
Returning players include forward Joey Brown ’15, who has already matched his 2011 total with three goals, Winichakul, Omeed Kashef ’14, Reed Caron ’13, Jay Dreier ’13 and Lars Olsen ’15, who have each started every game this year. New to the playing field is second-year Isaiah Tyree who, after a year of back-up, is starting as goalkeeper this year.
The Pioneers have played four games and are 1-2-1, but still have their entire conference schedule in front of them.
Brown is optimistic about the year to come.
“I think we’ve got a good year ahead of us. We’ve got a lot of young guys, which is good because we’ll be playing with each other for the next two to three years … and if we keep playing the way we’re playing, we’ll get to the conference tournament,” Brown said.
Young players have earned spots on this year’s squad. There are three first-year and two second-year starters.
“[The first-years] know how to hold their own,” Brown said.
Both Brown and Winichakul are delighted to have first years as part of the team.
“They have meshed well,” Winichakul said.
The mixing of youth and experience into one cohesive team has been working for the men.
Their first game, against Coe College on August 31, was an easy match for Grinnell as they won with a 5-1 score. Brown led the Pioneers with a hat trick. Next, they tied Central College 2-2 and lost to Simpson College 0-2. Their first road game was against the University of Wisconsin-Platteville on September 9, which they lost 1-2.
This new team has begun working together as a unit. Even though the last couple of games have been difficult for the team, they have plenty of soccer left to play.
“Every day is important to us,” Jaworski said.
“You take it one game at a time and focus on the next game,” Winichakul said.
The team’s first conference test is on Saturday, September 15 at Lake Forest, followed by a game the following day at Carroll University. The Pioneers’ next home game will be on September 22 against Illinois College at 1:30.