2013 Men's Soccer
Bluffton returners have high expectations for 2013
August 7, 2013
An experienced group of returners has the Bluffton fans excited for the start of the 2013 men’s soccer season. With just two graduated seniors gone from a season ago, the Beavers bring back 22 returners who saw significant action on the field in 2012. It may be the deepest and most experienced team Coach Nussbaum has directed since taking over the program three years ago.
Outside of keeper, Bluffton returns depth and experience at each position after Coach Nussbaum recruited over 20 freshmen to campus a season ago. With a dozen of them back for their second season in a Bluffton uniform, the Beavers look to be a worthy opponent when they hit the pitch this fall. Improvement will be necessary as the non-conference schedule features the likes of Calvin, Wabash, Waynesburg, Muskingum, Wittenberg and Oberlin.
A deep squad that has been through the cycle will guide a talented group of incoming freshmen who will battle for playing time this year. Another key component in Coach Nussbaum’s program is being able to schedule a quality junior varsity slate. The experience and competition is paramount for building a program that is able to re-load on an annual basis. Having more players involved improves team chemistry and helps keep rebuilding cycles to a minimum.
Seniors Matt May (Van Buren), John Harbeck (Mansfield/Christian) and Dylan Mathews (Arlington) are proven leaders who have played key roles in ensuring that their squad is a tight-knit unit with team goals at the forefront. Second team All-HCAC honorees Jordan Andrews (Clinton Township, MI/Chippewa Valley) and Ryan Johnson-Evers (Muskego, WI/Muskego) are talented defenders who will anchor Bluffton’s backfield in 2013.
One of the biggest challenges facing the Beavers is finding consistent goal scorers after Bluffton was blanked eight times in 2012. In addition to Mathews, Bluffton will look for offense from junior T.J. Kline (Mogodore), sophomore John Eckenrode (Northwood/Millbury Lake) and freshman Grant Stutzman (Berlin/Hiland). Junior Caleb Berlon (Kettering/Fairmont) and sophomores Ben Knotts (Carrollton), Jake Headings (Cincinnati/McNicholas) and Peter Carlson (Toledo/Springfield) all return with game experience in the midfield. Carlson netted two scores for the Beavers during his freshman Campaign.
Returners Adrian Ramirez (Archbold), Michael Ralph (Mansfield/Christian) and Neil Mast (Millersburg/Hiland) add to Bluffton’s experience on defense, an area that must continue to improve if the Beavers are to compete in the Heartland Conference when October rolls around. Limiting errors in the back will be crucial if Bluffton is to compete for its first-ever berth in the HCAC post-season tournament.
In stark contrast to a season ago when the Beavers played their first four matches on the road, Bluffton opens 2013 with home contests against Andrews University and Wabash College on September 2 and 5, respectively, before traveling to Muskingum on Sept. 10. The HCAC portion of the season commences on October 5 when the Beavers welcome a tough Rose-Hulman squad to the Sears Complex. Bluffton gets Defiance at home on October 30, the final Wednesday of the season. A trip to Lexington, Ky. Will wrap up the regular season on Saturday, November 2, when Bluffton matches up with 2012 champion Transylvania University.