After posting the best season in the eight-year history of the Union University men’s soccer program, the Bulldogs look to do even more in 2006. Union returns all but one starter from last season’s team that finished just one game away from the NAIA National Tournament. Several new additions fill out the roster, however, none more important than the new head coach for the Bulldogs, Clovis Simas.
Simas has 18 returning players on the varsity team this year, with seven of those players being seniors. Each of the seven seniors on the 2006 roster started at some point last season. Ten newcomers dot this very experienced roster. All of these players will have the opportunity to contribute to the varsity squad, however some will be mainly used to lead the way on the junior varsity team.
The senior class boast seven players that have contributed greatly to the recent success of this young program. Gareth Munro returns as Union’s leading scorer last season with 10 goals, including three game winners. Duncan Nicol, Craig Clark, Mark Forrest, Kirk Childers, Marko Pavlovic, and Christopher Prentice will each bring their experience and leadership to each match this season.
Six juniors join the seniors as a very experienced group with plenty of matches under their belt. Of these six players, all have started at some point during their Union careers. NAIA All-American, All-Region, and All-Conference Benny Crozier brings he team-high 11 assists from a year ago back to the table this season. Chris Lean replaces Union’s only lost starter from last season at the goalie position, however, Lean has plenty of experience over his career with numerous starts. Colin Bonner, Scott Sinclair, Kyle Sanders, and Bobby McColl complete a group of 13 junior and seniors which will fill out the majority of the starting rolls this year.
The smallest class on this roster is the group of five sophomores. Wagner Oliveira, Matthew Lynn, and Inacio Oliveira played a combined 30 varsity matches last season with Wagner Oliveira recording four goals. Kenny Shelton and Daniel Cathey played junior varsity last season but have the opportunity to contribute and learn from this very experienced varsity squad.
Ten freshman have earned a spot on the varsity roster in hopes of gaining playing time this season. Tyler Newman, Bradley Ward, Rabo Garba, Brendon Kuhlman, Paul Turner, Alessandro Oliveira, Leopold Psongo, Isaac Choy, Hanahiah Nyabam, and Marcos Matos will help fill some voids on the varsity squad, with some gaining experience on the junior varsity squad.
The junior varsity squad is made up of 12 players with four sophomores leading the way. Andy Walker, Dustin Colbey, Brian Jones, and Michael Lee each return after playing junior varsity last season. Freshmen Justin Williamson, Alex Ayris, Tim Cox, Ben Trail, Matt Lautensack, Lucas Neufeld, John Hawley and redshirt player Robert Hamilton will attempt to earn their time as they begin their careers in the Union program.
This team, full of upperclassmen with experience, is ready to make one last run at an NAIA National Tournament. Last season left a hunger that hasn’t been quenched yet. And these player know one more win will get them to where they want to be.