Despite losing top talent to graduation in the off-season and being picked to finish fifth in the CAA, Head Coach Chris Norris is quietly optimistic that this will be a successful year, and expects little drop-off from last year’s 13-win mark.
“We are at a point in the program now, through the hard work in recruiting and the culture we have created, that we will not have to have rebuilding periods,” Norris said. “We don’t have an Andrew Hoxie; we don’t have a Price Thomas either, but we have a lot of guys with their own abilities and talents that will surprise people this year.”
The challenge of replacing a recently graduated CAA Player of the Year in Hoxie and his 10 goals and 12 assists from last season is a daunting one, as is replacing recently graduated Thomas, the College’s second leading scorer with 17 points in 2009. However, the Tribe returns 10 seniors headlined by midfielder Nat Baako, a two-time first team All-CAA honoree and a 2010 preseason third-team All-American.
With Thomas and Hoxie gone, look for Baako to be positioned farther up the pitch to add a spark to the attack. Senior forward Alan Koger will headline the Tribe’s frontline after collecting six goals and three assists last fall.
Both of the College’s captains this season play on the defensive side of the ball. Senior back Mike DiNuzzo, who has started every game since his freshman year, will don a captain’s armband along with three-year captain and starting senior goalkeeper Andrew McAdams. The defense will be tested early on with a slate of tough opponents including West Virginia and no. 6 Maryland on the road, while hosting no. 3 Wake Forest in Williamsburg.
The College deploys both the traditional 4-4-2 and a hybrid version of the 4-3-3. The former has been a trademark of past seasons with the presence of marquee strikers on the roster. This season, the strength shifts to the center of the field. “With our choices up front being a little less clear this year, with us having some more players that could function as wingers instead of pure strikers, we feel like 4-4-3 may be a better fit,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. Norris’ tendency to push his outside defenders up the channels plays into the probability of using wingers in the 4-3-3 scheme as well.
Andrew McAdams: Goalie
Four-year starter and three-year captain goalkeeper Andrew McAdams will anchor the Tribe’s defense once again. McAdams is approaching some of the top goalkeeping records in the College’s history, but it is his ability to instill confidence and challenge his teammates that makes him an effective keeper according to Head Coach Chris Norris. “At the end of the day, when you start out with a guy in the back that you can really trust and rely on not just to make the saves he should, but to occasionally come up with the saves that will keep you in a game, it definitely sends a message of confidence to the team,” Norris said.