MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – The College of Charleston men’s soccer team is set to host the 12th annual Nike / Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic at Patriots Point this weekend. As part of this year’s Classic, CofC will face No. 40 Stanford on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. and No. 39 Dayton on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. No. 22 Furman will also participate in the tournament but not face the Cougars.
“Stanford is a huge challenge," said CofC head coach Ralph Lundy. "They haven’t lost this season, either in the preseason or in their first game and they get after it. We have got to continue to do what we did right in Columbia and we have to minimize mistakes.
“Dayton is also undefeated. They beat Kentucky and Ohio State. That’s what we wanted in our schedule. We have got great players and we’ve got a great team. We’ve got to keep refining, eliminate mistakes and do our things better.
“We have to make things different. It’s in our hands. We
lost six matches by one goal last year and we had five ties. We have to push
through that this year. The real key is don’t make defensive mistakes and don’t
give them goals. That’s something we have to focus more and more on. It’s the
basis of wins… defending and not making mistakes.”
REMEMBERING AARON OLITSKY…
This yearly tournament is held in honor of Aaron Olitsky, a 1997 graduate of the College who died tragically in a car accident in 2001. Olitsky is remembered by many for his dedication and resolve in everything he set out to do. This annual tournament in his honor raises money for the Olitsky Memorial Foundation.
At just 120 pounds, Olitsky weathered the rigors of walking on to the team and sitting out a season's worth of matches as a redshirt freshman. Despite the odds stacked against him, no one worked harder in practice than Olitsky. A pesky defender, Olitsky's competiveness was unrivaled as he always took on the most demanding on-field assignments and challenged his teammates to improve with him.
His dedication paid off as he became an integral player while the CofC soccer team experienced some of its most successful years in program history. The Cougars won their conference, the Trans America Athletic Conference, each season Olitsky was a member of the team. Olitsky factored heavily in the team's success and scored the game-winning goals which propelled CofC to NCAA Tournament berths in 1994, 1995 and 1996. He was also included on the 1996 TAAC All-Tournament team.
"He was a great player on the '94, '95 and '96 teams whose attitude and persistence have become the standard for our program," said Lundy. "He was a bit of an underdog with a spirit that said 'I will not be defeated' not only on the soccer field but in all his endeavors. Every day, I challenge our players to be more like Aaron Olitsky."
GLANCING AT THE COUGARS…
CofC is coming off a trying loss in its opener to No. 27 South Carolina which they suffered at Eugene E. Stone Stadium in Columbia, S.C., last Friday night. CofC showed quality in possession and creating chances but couldn’t capitalize en route to the 1-0 decision.
The match’s lone goal came from the boot of Gamecock midfielder Stephen Anderson who put a charge into the ball from beyond 40 yards. Cougar keeper Kees Heemskerk (Zaandam, Netherlands) got his gloves to the ball but it found its way to the back of the net.
CofC’s nearest breakthrough came midway through the opening period when the Cougars collected a failed clearance attempt and pushed back at the Gamecocks’ off-balance defense. Troy Peterson (Federal Way, Wash.) tracked a shot for the ride-side netting but Gamecock defender Kevin Stam was at the goal line and was able to clear the ball from danger.
Ralphie Lundy (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) paced CofC with four shots on the evening and put two on frame. Heemskerk finished the night with three brilliant saves, each one more dazzling than the next.
Six Cougars attempted shots in the match including Luke Huggett (Brighton, England) and Sam Redmond (Asheville, N.C.) who are both newly-arrived transfers who look to make immediate impacts.
The match was extremely physical and a testament to the passion fueling this intrastate rivalry. Both teams committed 13 fouls in the match and the officials issued seven cautions.
The Cougars held a 7-2-1 match in season openers in the past 10 years.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL…
Stanford was victorious in its season opener with the Cardinal earning a 1-0 decision over San Francisco on Friday, Aug. 24. Aaron Kovar scored the game winner after Adam Jahn and JJ Koval exchanged passes at the top of the box before Koval bent a ball around a defender towards the near post where Kovar was in place to slot the ball into the net.
The goal came in the second minute of the match and then Stanford hung on to earn the shutout the rest of the way. The Cardinal held a 9-7 shot advantage in the first half but the Dons peppered them in the second half and ended the game with a 14-13 advantage.
The win got brand-new head coach Jeremy Gunn’s Stanford career started on the right foot as it was his first match with his new team. Gunn joined Stanford from UNC Charlotte where he led the 49ers to two NCAA Tournament appearances and a national runner-up finish. He was named the NSCAA National Coach of the Year after last year’s College Cup finals run.
Jahn looks to be one of Stanford’s most prominent targets on the attack as the top returning scorer from last year’s 6-10-2 team. Jahn, a senior, is joined at the front by sophomore Bobby Edwards and freshman Adrian Alabi.
Koval, Dersu Abolfathi and Eric Anderson are all returning starters who provide experience and depth in the midfield. Kovar, a freshman, seems to have solidified his spot in the midfield after scoring the game winner last Friday as well as goals in both of Stanford’s exhibitions.
Drew Hutchins won the starting job at goalkeeper for the season opener over junior Jason Dodson who had been the Cardinal’s primary keeper over the past two seasons.
SCOUTING THE FLYERS…
Dayton is off to a hot start in the 2012 season after going 2-0 last weekend to the recognition of the national pundits. The flyers racked up seven goals in wins over Ohio State and Stanford and received six votes in the NSCAA Top 25 Poll, ranking them 39th in the country.
The 2-0 start is Dayton’s best since the 2008 campaign when UD went on to capture the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Dayton has relied on multiple-goal individual performances in both of its early victories. Senior forward Evan McCreary scored twice in the first half against Ohio State to lead them to victory, though he wouldn’t be credited with the game winner.
Against Kentucky, senior Daniel Derko picked up his first career hat trick and UD needed all three in order to eke out a 4-3 victory. Berko first scored in the 52nd minute by collecting a failed clearance by the Kentucky keeper. After the Wildcats evened the match two minutes later, Berko again gave the Flyers the lead in the 58th minute and notched the trifecta in the 65th minute which put Dayton up 4-1. The Wildcats would respond with two more goals but couldn’t erase the deficit.
Neither effort went unrewarded as Berko was selected to the College Soccer News’ National Team of the Week as well as the A-10 Player of the Week. McCreary was named the National Offensive Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.
The Cougars will be facing off with Stanford for only the second time in program history. In 2007, the teams met on a cold and rainy night in Stanford, Calif. The teams battled the elements for 120 minutes of defense-dominated soccer before settling for a scoreless draw after double overtime.
CofC coach Ralph Lundy and Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn do have a bit of familiarity with each other, however. The two coaches have gone head-to-head twice in the past five seasons while Gunn was at UNC Charlotte. The Cougars claimed a 2-0 decision in 2007 as part of the Aaron Olitsky Classic but the 49ers downed the Cougars, 5-3, in a tournament hosted by Davidson the following year.
CofC and Dayton have never met.
EYEING THE POLLS…
Both the Flyers and Cardinal are receiving votes in the NSCAA Coaches Poll after successful starts to the season. Dayton received six votes this week, ranking 39th, while Stanford received four votes to come in just behind them at No. 40.
The Cougars have eight 2012 opponents who are currently ranked or receiving votes in the NSCAA poll.
MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE FOR THE MATCHES...
Fans unable to make it to Patriots Point for live and in-person soccer action will be able keep up with the plays on their computers and mobile devices. CofCSports.com will provide both a live webstream and live stats with animated play-by-play.
The webstream requires a subscription but offers a multiple-camera broadcast with play-by-play commentary and analysis. The live stats are available at no charge.
FOLLOW THE COUGARS…
Another great way of keeping up with the CofC men’s soccer team is through the team's own Twitter account (@CofCSoccer). The account provides pictures, team activities, statuses when the team is on the road as well as in-game thoughts and updates.
After concluding play in the Classic, the Cougars will prepare for a trip to Greenville, S.C., to compete in the Furman University Diadora / Spinx Tournament next weekend.
The Cougars will see Memphis on Friday, Sept. 7 starting at 4:30 p.m. and finish with UNC Wilmington on Sunday, Sept. 9 at noon.