Soccer Picked Fourth in ODAC Preseason Poll

FOREST, VA - The Hampden-Sydney Soccer team was tabbed to finish fourth in the annual Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Preseason Poll, as voted on by league head coaches. The Tigers received the second-most first place votes with three.

The Tigers are coming off a cinderella season in which they reached the ODAC Championship game as the #7 seed after posting a 7-8-2 regular season mark. H-SC's offense has lost little to graduation, returning all but two players to have contributed at least one point on the season ending roster.

Bryan Wharton (Glen Allen, VA/Deep Run) is back in the fold for his senior year after leading the ODAC in goals (12) and points (28) a season ago en route to being named First-Team All-ODAC and All-State. One of the most prolific scoring forwards in school history, another typical Wharton season could see him sitting atop the school record book in career goals and points. Wharton needs 29 points and eight goals to tie Mike Melvin for career points and career goals. To tie Jeff Mencini in second, he will need 15 points and six goals in each respective category.

Nick DeProspero (Midlothian, VA/Cosby), Chris Whiteside (Virginia Beach, VA/Frank W. Cox), and Curran Blackwell (Wilson, NC/Greenfield) round out the double digit scorers from last season.

DeProspero led the ODAC with nine assists and also tallied 15 points to earn First-Team All-ODAC and All-State. One of the top playmakers in the ODAC since his freshman year, DeProspero has already made a notable splash in the H-SC records. Through two seasons, he has contributed 19 assists to rank 10th in career assists. He needs just five assists to be third all-time and another nine assist season would give him 28, good enough for second all-time and just two assists shy of tying the career record held by JR Hughes.

Whiteside had a breakout season as a sophomore, contributing 14 points on six goals and two assists, with three of his goals being game winners. His strong play late in the season helped catalyze the late season push that saw the Tigers go 5-2-2 in the last nine games.

Blackwell proved to be a deadly player on corner kicks and set pieces as his height and athleticism enabled him to be a big presence in the box for headers. He posted five goals and one assist on the year for 11 points.

While the defense still has several key pieces returning, several key pieces will have to be replaced. While Blackwell is a valuable offensive player, his best work comes on the defensive side of the field where he earned Second-Team All-ODAC in 2010. Gregorio Pacheco (Montclair, NJ/Montclair) will be the lone senior representative on the backline. A captain this season, Pacheco moved from the offensive end of the field to the defense in 2010. His speed and athleticism proved to be extremely helpful as he was learning the position, and it enabled him to eventually become a top notch defender.

Jackson Parker (Raleigh, NC/Sanderson) started all 20 games as a freshman and improved tremendously throughout the season, culminating in being named to the ODAC All-Tournament team. Another sophomore who showed flashes of potential and was an occassional starter was Justin Pugh (Richmond, VA/Monocan). With the graduates leaving, Pugh has a strong chance of stepping into the starting lineup on a full-time basis.

While the Tigers return several valuable defensive players, there are a few major substractions for 2011. Lost to graduation are Matt Hampton, Sam Turner, and John Robert Plyler.

Hampton was an All-ODAC player and was one of the top defensive midfielders in the ODAC. While he didn't contribute much offense in terms of statistics, he was a valuable leader on the offensive end.

Turner was a stalwart defender for the Tigers and his presence on the backline was one of the major reasons why the Tigers became an elite level defensive team during his tenure.

Plyler is a likely future Hampden-Sydney Hall-of-Famer and will go down as one of the best goalkeepers to ever suit up for the Tigers. His name is peppered near the top of every recorded goalkeeper record at Hampden-Sydney.

While the Tigers are poised to be as one of the favorites to win the ODAC Championship, the competition on the road to the title will be stiff.

2011 ODAC MEN'S SOCCER PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes

1. Lynchburg (5)

94 pts.

2. Virginia Wesleyan (2)

87 pts.

3. Roanoke (1)

85 pts.

4. Hampden-Sydney (3)

76 pts.

5. Randolph

59 pts.

6. Guilford

56 pts.

7. Washington and Lee

48 pts.

8. Randolph-Macon

36 pts.

9. Eastern Mennonite

30 pts.

10. Bridgewater

21 pts.

11. Emory & Henry

13 pts.