VIRGINA BEACH -- Tournament competition will dominate the early portion of the season for the 2013 Virginia Wesleyan College men's soccer team who open in two-day event on the road before hosting their own two-day tourney the following weekend.
New head coach Chris Mills wil unveil his squad in the Joe Pombriant/Christopher Newport Classic in Newport News beginning on Friday, Aug. 30, at 5 p.m. against Delaware's Wesley College. On Saturday, Aug. 31, the Marlins face the host Captains of CNU at 7:30 p.m.
VWC makes its home debut the following Saturday, Sept. 7, hosting Ohio's Baldwin-Wallace University at 7 p.m. in the Marlins Classic. The Marlins also play on Sunday, Sept. 8, taking on the University of Mary Washington at 7 p.m.
The four tournament games are part of seven non-conference dates for VWC throughout the season. The Marlins will host Southern Virginia University on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. and visit NCAA qualifier Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. VWC's final non-conference foe will be North Carolina Wesleyan College on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m. in Rocky Mount, N.C.
VWC's participation in the Joe Pombriant/CNU Classic will mark its 11th appearance in the Captains' tournament since 1988. VWC has posted an 11-7-2 record in the tournament against 15 different opponents, but will face Wesley for only the second time in soccer. The Wolverines graduated their top three scorers from 2011's 5-11-2 steam and will rely on defense in the early season. Senior goalie Mark Mattern (Carney, Md./Kenwood), who recorded a 1.92 goals against average (GAA) and a .730 saves percentage, will lead that effort.
Game two will put the Marlins up against a CNU team that qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2011 and finished 15-4-2 overall. USA South Athletic Conference and Virginia College Division Player of the Year Jalon Brown (Yorktown/Grafton), who scored 14 goals and 11 assists last season.
Senior Caleb Lewis (Mechanicsville/Lee-Davis), who tallied five goals and five assists, also returns to the offense. Defensively, the Captains will feature a pair of first-team All-Virginia defenders in Alec Faulkner (White Stone/Christchurch) and Tommy O'Neal (Stafford/North Stafford). There's experience in the goal too where 6-foot-5, 200 pound senior Sean Killion (Crofton, Md./Arundel) returns. He recorded a 1.23 GAA and .675 saves percentage last year.
The VWC-CNU game will be the 38th between the schools in a series that began in 1974. Virginia Wesleyan leads the series overall 23-11-3.
The following weekend the Marlins face a Baldwin-Wallace team for only the third time overall. The Yellow Jackets, who compete in the Ohio Athletic Conference, finished 7-7-4 in 2011. The Jackets allowed only 25 goals in 18 matches and return two key defensive players in Judson Sprandel (Akron, Ohio/Green) and Bill Gamble (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick). Offensively, the Jackets will feature junior Ben Deighton (Richfield, Ohio/Revere), who scored six goals and three assists in 2011.
On Sunday, the Marlins renew a series with Mary Washington for the 36th time and first since 2010. VWC leads the overall series 20-10-5, but face an Eagles team that returns a solid nucleus from last year's 12-8-1 team. Four of the team's top five scorers return, led by a pair of second team Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) honorees in senior Tommy Sangbouasy (Manassas/Osbourn), who scored seven goals and four assists, and sophomore Patrick Kelly (Williamsburg/Jamestown), who tallied six goals and one assist.
First team All-CAC honorees Jack Doyle (Stafford/Mountain View) returns to the midfield for the Eagles, David Heller (Alexandia/Mount Vernon) returns to the defense, and Tyler Back (Falls Church/George Mason) returns to his position in front of the goal. Back owned a 1.13 GAA and .774 saves percentage in 2011.
Several days later the Marlins host the Knights of Southern Virginia for the first time ever. SVU, which begins membership in the CAC this fall, finished 10-7 last season, marking the program's highest total of wins since 2003. The Knights will be lead by United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) All-American Adam Freeman (Marion/Marion), who scored 10 goals and seven assists. He's part of a 1-2-3 scoring punch for SVU, which will include Nathaniel Sellis (Taylorsville, Utah/Taylorsville) and Kyle Tyree (Williamsburg/Bloomingdale, Fla.), who both scored five goals in 2011.
SVU's defensive effort will be keyed by USCAA All-American Zac McCulloch (Draper, Utah/Alta), Cameron Walch (Sandy, Utah/Alta) and goalie Robert Key (Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus). Key recorded a 1.74 GAA and .699 saves percentage last year.
Virginia Wesleyan continues the non-conference slate against defending USA South champion Methodist, renewing a series with the Monarchs for the 25th time, but first since 2007. VWC leads the series 13-8-3. Methodist finished 15-3-3 last year and outgoaled foes 56-17. The Monarchs return their top four scorers, led by Erik Nordseth (Steinkjer, Norway), a two-time first team All-USA South honoree, and Eric McGinnis (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin), a second team All-USA South honoree last year. Nordseth scored 17 goals and six assists last year and McGinnis added 15 goals and 10 assists.
The Marlins face another USA South foe in its final non-conference game of the season on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at North Carolina Wesleyan College. The Battling Bishops finished 9-3-3 last year and return two of the top three scorers. Andri Bjarnanson (Bolungarvik, Iceland/Menntaskolinn a Isafirdi), the USA South Rookie of the Year, scored 14 goals and five assists, and Alambi Clarke (Bladensburg, Md./Parkdale) added nine goals and three assists. The Bishops also return two goalies who split time. Fabia Broich (Rommerskirchen, Germany/Pascal-Gym) recorded a 0.79 GAA and .833 saves percentage last season, and Nathan Mangione (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) came in with a 1.79 GAA and .689 saves percentage. VWC leads the series between the schools 21-13-1.
Old Dominion Athletic Conference competition begins for VWC on Saturday, Sept. 14, in Harrisonburg against the Royals of Eastern Mennonite University at 7 p.m. The Marlins will make their ODAC home debut on Saturday, Oct. 5, hosting the Quakers of Guilford College at 2 p.m. The Marlins also have home conference dates with Washington and Lee University, Lynchburg College, Hampden-Sydney College and Shenandoah University before the start of the post-season tournament. Last year VWC finished as runner-up in the tourney, falling 1-0 in double overtime to Roanoke College.