If there was ever a rebuilding year, then 2013 is it for the USC Salkehatchie men’s soccer program. That’s because fourteen players graduated off the team in May, including nine starters. In order to judge the quality of those Indians who will be wearing different colored uniforms this fall, you just need to look at the Indians’ won/lost record of 19-12-5 over the last two years. Another gauge would be to look at where the 2013 Salk men’s team players will be plying their trade this fall. Most received scholarships to play soccer on NCAA D-II teams. So only two starters are returning to the program from last year and the team will be graced with a total of only ten returners. Of course, having said all that, the fact is that there is no such thing as a rebuilding year. Teams always have to keep improving on previous results, there is no going backward. As hall of fame NFL football coach George Allen said, “The future is now.” So that just means that this year the returning players will need to take ownership of their sophomore season and work overtime to make 2013 a season to remember. Most immediately the sophomores will need to help the incoming freshmen to quickly adapt to the team’s tactics and style of play. For their part, the large freshman class will have to produce some high impact players who are not only skillful but intelligent in the way they approach the game. There will not be a lot of time for the new guys to pick up on things because the team will play its first match just ten days after being introduced to one another.
The Indians will be looking for leadership from returning goal keeper Dieusel Jeannot of North Lauderdale, Florida, as well as freshman goalkeeper Jesse Brandon Woods of Charleston who is returning to college after serving in the military. Jordan Ward, a goalkeeper from Barnwell, will give nearby soccer fans who have watched Ward play for many years a reason to root for the Indians. Ward was a mainstay of the Barnwell High School defense over the last several years.
The back line will be anchored by returning sophomore center back Timoy Mowatt of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, who started in that position for the Indians last year. Also expected to play in central defense is Mehdi Mauger of Marseille, France, and Garth Thomas of Grenada, West Indies. Sophomore Sandre Duncan of Lauderhill, Florida, and sophomore Drew Derrick of Aiken are expected to see playing time at right back, as is incoming freshmen Dave Stone of Westmoreland, Jamaica. Another freshman, Wayne Warsop of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, will bring high level club experience to the left back position. The Indians defense will also benefit from center back Jack Johnson, a freshmen from Queensland, Australia, who can play outside back as well as in the middle. Joshua Witt of Cassat comes to the Indians defense with a background of success playing club and high school soccer in South Carolina. Josh was a defensive bulwark at highly regarded Camden High School and was selected to play on a high level U-19 travel team this spring. “I am very happy with the defenders we have returning to the team, I know what they can do,” according to USC Salkehatchie Head Soccer Coach, Bill Glass. “At the same time, one of my main priorities in recruiting for 2013 was defense and I am quite satisfied with the new players we will have playing in the back.”
Last year’s Indians had a great deal of success controlling the midfield, utilizing a system that featured three center mids. Two key midfielders from 2012 will be back from that 2012 campaign: Odane Smith of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, and Dominique Hooks of Moncks Corner. “Dominique is a very technical, very effective center mid,” says Glass. “Odane has this uncanny way of finding space for himself and supporting the ball,” said Glass. “He is therefore a key to our success in playing the ball out of the back.” These sophomores better be on their game this fall if they want to hold their spots as the team will be deluged by a host of midfielders. Leading the charge will be Ricardo Foster, a well-schooled soccer player who can play anywhere including in the back but is best utilized as a holding mid. Other midfielders coming in from out of state include: Andre Adamo, a smart, technical midfielder from Sao Paulo, Brazil; Jonathan Mendoza, a highly recommended player from Gainesville, Georgia; Cesar Bullon, a player with a strong soccer resume hailing from Marietta, Georgia; Webster Mulenga, a speedy attacking midfielder from Sandy Springs, Georgia, and Di-Neal Kennedy, an advanced player from Brooklyn, New York. These out-of-state players will be challenged for starting positions by a group of palmetto state players including Nick Gause of Sumter, Tyler Evans of Kingstree, Jesse Glover of Denmark, Glen Lambert of Andrews, Michael Hazel of Brunson, and Noe Herrera of Blackville. “I have seen all the South Carolina guys play and am confident that they will do well in the NJCAA,” said Glass. “With the number of midfielders we will have available, and considering the liberal substitution rules of the NJCAA, we should be able to keep rotating guys in and out so as to have fresh legs out there at all times.”
Last year’s Indians offense featured Elijah Ukpong, an all-region forward who scored 22 goals for the Indians and received several offers from NCAA Division I soccer coaches upon graduation in May. This year, the team returns forwards Mamadou Ka of Atlanta, Georgia, Cameron Bartlett of Aiken and Raoul Hunt of Goose Creek to pick up where Ukpong left off. Several freshmen forwards from South Carolina will also be joining the Indians including Josh Vellucci who stared for Beaufort High School, Pedro Zambrano who provided offensive fireworks for Silver Bluff High School, Shaquille Walters who led the scoring for Colleton County High School, and Jose Cedillo who comes to the Indians with sterling recommendations from his coaches at Gilbert High School. The state of Florida will provide the Indians with a three forwards. Nevzad Kanterevic and Dennis Ferenchik of Jacksonville were teammates at Wolfson High School. Penn Jean Baptiste of Miami will also be vying for playing time up top; he played his schoolboy ball at Miami Edison High School. The state of Georgia will contribute Bendugu Koroma to the ranks of those who wish to score early and often for the Indians. Ben is from Atlanta, Georgia, where he played up top for Mundy’s Mill High School.
“Every year at the initial team meeting, I tell the assembled players that I have no doubt that we have a strong group of good soccer players on hand,” says Glass. “I also tell them that right about now the coaches for all our opponents are telling their teams the same thing. So when push comes to shove this fall with the success of our season at stake, what it will boil down to is not who has a good team, but who has the best team.”
The Indians will have a very large number of players reporting in for preseason training, but if history is any indicator the number of players will decline as the toll taken by two-a-day practices leads to defections. “I hope that we have the same number of players on October 5 as we do on August 5,” says Glass. “However, in previous years, the less dedicated players have dropped out along the way leaving us in a situation of not having enough guys to play full 11 v 11 inter-squad scrimmages at practice. We are not taking any chances on that happening again this year.”
Coach Glass has set high expectations for the players with regard to the fitness level that they bring to the opening day of practice. “The initial fitness test will help me sort out the serious athletes from the social players,” according to Glass. The returning players and freshmen have also been given the chance to get a head start on the paperwork needed to clear individuals for eligibility. “Guys who cannot take care of their business affairs in an efficient manner have a very limited future in soccer,” according to Glass.
Clues to the potential of the 2013 team will come early this fall. The Indians begin two-a-day practices on August 5, and then on August 15, a scant nine days later, they travel to Mount Vernon, Georgia, to play their first preseason scrimmage at Brewton-Parker College with game time set for 3pm. Then on August 19, the men’s soccer team of Columbia International University comes to Allendale for a friendly match that will kick off at 5pm. The Indians will close out their preseason at USC Aiken on Wednesday, August 21, under the lights at the Pacer Pit starting at 7pm. The USC Salkehatchie men’s soccer official 2013 NJCAA season will kick off that weekend on Saturday, August 24, with a 1pm showdown versus Region X foe Wake Tech. The complete game schedule is posted on the USC Salkehatchie athletics web page.
“I feel confident that we are going to put a competitive team on the field and play an entertaining brand of soccer this fall,” says Glass. “I intend to make full use of our depth and play a high pressure, fast paced game in which the players will be asked to give everything they’ve got while on the field knowing that there is no reason for them to conserve energy, as we will be substituting frequently. My prediction is that we will post our third straight winning season.”