__Loss of forwards Hoxie, Snyder has College looking for scoring punch__
As the regular season opener against Elon University rapidly approaches, it’s evident that Head Coach Chris Norris must adjust his offensive strategy. After losing leading scorer Andrew Hoxie for the season due to undisclosed reasons and University of Mary Washington transfer sophomore Ryan Snyder to a knee injury, the Tribe has been left with an unexpected lack of depth at striker. However, Norris is prepared to adjust to the inevitable challenges of an NCAA season.
p. In order to combat the team’s obvious holes at striker, Coach Norris plans to implement a new 4-3-3 formation that could feature redshirt freshman Alan Koger, junior Nathan Belcher and experienced senior Doug Ernst at the forward positions. Both Koger and Belcher should offer a certain amount of youthful energy and goal-scoring potential as each has good size and is effective when his back is to the goal. Meanwhile, Ernst, who has been a mainstay in the Tribe midfield for the last three seasons, should provide both experience and continuity to an otherwise inexperienced attack unit. A true wizard with the ball at his feet, Ernst combines scoring ability with an uncanny ability to see the entire field and distribute the ball with unparalleled precision.
p. “When we play in the 4-3-3 formation I should have less defensive responsibility. I’ll be more free to attack up the wing and swing the ball into the center of the field,” said Ernst when asked about his adjusted role in the new offense. Ernst will look to build off his breakout 2006 campaign when he led the CAA in assists.
In addition to crafting a new offensive strategy, Coach Norris has recently named the team captains — senior Ryan Overdevest and junior Doug McBride. Overdevest — who was recently given Second-Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors — should provide some much-needed senior leadership to a squad with 17 underclassmen. Meanwhile, McBride will set an excellent example for the youthful team with his constant hustle and positive attitude.
p. Coach Norris also mentioned senior back Ryan Sells when asked who he considered the team leaders.
p. “Sells is a fifth-year senior who played in 16 games for us last year,” Norris said. “He really gives this team some valuable experience.”
p. Although the team has endured a significant amount of misfortune before the outset of the season, Doug Ernst remains confident that a youthful Tribe squad will have success.
“It’s hard when you lose good players,” Ernst said. “However, opportunities have been opened up for some younger players. If these young guys can step up to the challenge as they already have this pre-season, we may not miss a beat.”
p. After the home opener against Elon, the Tribe will travel to Pennsylvania for the weekend, where they will face off with Pennsylvania State University Sept. 7 and the Ohio State University Buckeyes Sept. 9.