The men's soccer team is in the midst of pre-season camp, and, from the early indications, head coach Neil Roberts is pleased with his team's health and fitness.
"I am very happy with the way the players returned to camp," said the coach, who will enter his 15th season at the Terrier helm on September 3rd at the Florida International Tournament.
"Everyone came back fit and healthy," said Roberts, who has never had a losing season at B.U., compiling an overall record of 185-68-34. His 185 career wins ranks 37th among all Division 1 coaches, while his .704 winning percentage ranks 10th.
"That means that when camp opened we didn't have to take the time for players to get into proper condition," said the coach. "Instead, we were able to look at how we are going to play tactically from the beginning of camp."
For the second year in a row, the Terriers will spend the first eight days of pre-season camp at Northfield-Mt. Hermon School in Northfield, MA. They will remain there until August 25th when they return to campus. They are scheduled to play a scrimmage at Holy Cross on August 26th and then play a Canadian Team on August 28th at Duxbury High School. It will be part of a doubleheader that will include the Terrier women's team playing a Canadian all-star team that played in the W-league. The women's match will begin at 6:00 p.m., while the men will get underway at 8:00 p.m.
After opening their regular-season with two matches at the Florida International Tournament, the Terriers return to New England for a September 10th match at Rhode Island and a September 12th match at the University of Massachusetts.
The home portion of their schedule will begin on September 19th when they take on Creighton University at Harvard.
"Our top priorities during pre-season are to find a goalkeeper, a defender, and two midfielders," said Roberts.
It is possible newcomers could fill these holes.
In the goal, Matt Smith, a freshman from Lanchester, England, has played well during the first week of pre-season and will challenge returning letterman Keith Poole for the spot. Poole redshirted last season, but he showed his potential during the late stages of the 1997 season. Filling in for the injured Bryan Murphy, Poole beat Vermont and Hofstra in the America East Tournament, then blanked Long Island University in the NCAA play-in game. Unfortunately, the first round of the NCAAs, he was charged with the loss to Dartmouth. His season totals were 6-3-0 with a 1.76 goals against average and a .636 save percentage.
Another freshman, David Fahey, could step up and play as a defender.
At midfield, newcomer Kirk Miller, who started at the University of Maryland the last two years, is expected to challenge for one of the starting spots. In his two-year career at Maryland, Miller, who was a Parade High School All-America at Minnetonka (MN), scored 7 goals and 6 assists. Last season, he had 3-4-10, with one of his goals coming against Jacksonville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Two other freshmen, Markus Raisanen and Tony D'Angelo, could see playing time at midfield.
"We are going to need some of the freshmen to step it up," said Roberts. "Both Miller and Smith have a good shot to play, but we will be looking for some of the other freshmen to help us fill the holes we have.
"Of course those replacements could come from some of the people we have coming back," noted the coach.
Of the returning veterans, Roberts singled out senior midfielder Nick Vamivakas.
"Nick came back in great shape," said Roberts. "It is obvious he wants to play a key role for us this year and get a lot of playing time."
Roberts then turned his attention to the Terriers' style of play during the coming season.
"I prefer a 4-4-2 formation," said the coach. "But, it will all depend on our personnel. We won't know how we are going to play tactically until after we get a good look at our people through the first week or so of camp.
"By then, we should have a better idea of how we are going to play this year," concluded the coach.