2001 Bulldog Soccer Season Outlook
Union Soccer Will Be Led By Outstanding Returning Class
For the Union University soccer program, each season has seen the Bulldogs improve on the previous season, and 2001 should be no exception. With nine of last seasons’ 11 starters returning and some highly rated recruits, Coach White and his squad are primed and ready for a trip to the NAIA post-season. There are two juniors that standout among the returning starters on the 2001 team. Jeff Lean, a physical education major from British Columbia, Canada and Joe Phiri, a business major from Lusaka, Zambia were both ranked in the top four in the NAIA last season at their respective positions.
Union’s defense, which was ranked third in the nation last season, will once again be dominant with the return of NAIA All-American honorable mentioned goalkeeper Jeff Lean. Lean was No. 4 in the nation as he boasted a 0.69 goals against average. The offense will once again be in capable hands with NCCAA All-American Joe Phiri back as Union’s leading goal scorer. Phiri was ranked No. 2 in the nation in points per game with a 3.5 average and also ranked No. 4 in the nation with 1.44 goals per game. Also returning to Union this season is junior Matt Gladdle. Gladdle played his first two seasons with the Bulldogs before sitting out last season. In 1998 and 1999, Gladdle was ranked first and second respectively in scoring as a marking back.
The Bulldogs have added a highly recognized group of freshmen that will have an immediate impact on this year’s squad. Led by two marking backs, Redzi Stojilijkovic of Yugoslavia and Daniel Lee of British Columbia, Canada, Union has a very aggressive midfield that can play defense, but also one that can generate offense as well. From his defensive position, Stojilijkovic scored 17 goals in 23 games for his local team in Yugoslavia.
Head Coach Darin White is very optimistic about this season because he has the most talented team Union has ever had and believes they will be successful even though this is the toughest schedule yet for the Bulldogs. Union opens up their season at the University of Tampa, a NCAA Div. II opponent that is ranked No. 25 in the nation. Also lurking down the road is conference rival Berry College, the defending conference champions. Union will play host to Berry College and Martin Methodist College this season. Union defeated Martin Methodist last season to earn a spot in the TranSouth Conference Tournament.
Union will play their first home game on September 11 as they host cross-town rival Lambuth University in the Jackson Cup. The Casey Jones Village Classic will begin at Union on September 14-15, Friday and Saturday night as the Bulldogs will battle Missouri Baptist and Union College KY. On Monday and Tuesday, October 15-16, Union will host the West Tennessee Collegiate Soccer Cup. Union, Freed-Hardeman, Lambuth, and Bethel will match up with local bragging rights on the line.
This will be the fourth season of varsity competition for the Union soccer program and five seniors, all starters, have been around since the beginning. Leading this group is three-year team captain and four-year starter, Scott Marksberry and co-captain Cesar Cerdeira. Marksberry received a selection as NAIA Scholar Athlete, along with being named NCCAA honorable mentioned All-American. Coach White will rely on his seniors to carry this team mentally, as well as physically, in order for them to advance to the NAIA post season.