Men's Soccer Begins Florida Road Trip on ThursdaySeptember 3, 2014
ANDERSON, S.C. – After Anderson University men’s soccer closed the 2013 season on a low note by dropping its final two contests of the year, the Trojans look to start 2014 with a pair of wins as they start their campaign in Florida with the season opener at Rollins on Thursday, followed by a showdown with Flagler on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Anderson closed its 2013 season with a 12-7-3 overall record and earned its fourth straight trip to the South Atlantic Conference Tournament championship, where it fell for the first time to league newcomer Queens, 2-0. Despite the setback in the title match, the Trojans earned a spot into the NCAA Tournament where it matched up with SAC foe, Carson-Newman. After scoring the opening goal, AU was unable to maintain its lead, allowing three unanswered goals and eventually falling 3-2.
The NCAA Tournament appearance was assistant coach Michael Zion’s third trip as a member of the AU coaching staff, as Zion takes over the head coaching duties after John Murphy left for Division I’s Boston College. Since arriving at AU prior to the 2010 season, Zion has compiled 50 wins as an assistant coach, highlighted by a Sweet 16 appearance in 2010.
Zion returns a wealth of experience to the lineup as just two players from his starting-11 from the conference title match are not slated to return. Headlining the roster are Preseason SAC All-Conference honorees Lars Zimmerman, Andre Carle and Alex Delpy. The trio combined for 61 games played a season ago, while Zimmerman and Delpy anchored a backline which produced six clean sheets in 2013.
Rollins enters the 2014 season as the No. 5 ranked team in the nation, according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll. The Tars closed last year with a 17-3 overall record and a 7-1 mark in the Sunshine State Conference. Following the regular season, the Tars advanced to the National Quarterfinals where they were eliminated by eventual national runner-up Carson-Newman, 2-1.
RC is projected to return six starters from its 2013 lineup, highlighted by SSC Freshman of the Year, Tosan Popo. Popo closed the 2013 campaign with six goals and four assists, while logging 1264 minutes. For his efforts, the Essex, England native was named to the Daktronics All-South Region Second Team and the NSCAA All-South Region Second Team.
Thursday’s opener will mark the first meeting between AU and Rollins.
Flagler closed out the 2013 year with a 9-7-3 overall record with a 5-2-2 mark in the Peach Belt Conference. Following the regular season, the Saints advanced to the PBC semifinals before being eliminated by Montevallo, 2-1. Despite the exit, Flagler earned a spot into the NCAA Tournament, where it fell 1-0 in overtime to host, Lander.
Junior Marco Warren returns to the Saints’ attack after scoring seven goals for the Crimson and Gold a season ago. Warren trailed Zach Shanahan by just two goals for the team-lead, but tied the striker for the team-high in assists with four.
Anderson and Flagler have met twice in the past two seasons, as both teams have failed to score a goal in both meetings. The last time a team posted a result in the all-time series was in 2009 when Anderson captured a 6-1 win over the Saints.