2015 Men's Soccer
August 13, 2015
BLUFFTON, Ohio - A solid finish to the 2014 men’s soccer campaign along with the addition of a full-time head coach for both the men’s and women’s soccer programs has given new life to soccer at Bluffton University. The Beavers took advantage of their stout defense down the stretch, allowing just 12 goals in Heartland Conference play while finishing 3-6 in the HCAC.
Despite waving goodbye to five seniors on graduation day, the 2015 men’s soccer team will sport one of its most experienced units ever when nine seniors take the pitch this season. A group effort will be required to compensate for the loss of Jordan Andrews in the back as well as T.J. Kline and Peter Carlson who both netted six goals apiece in 2014. Experience is a strength as nine returning starters are ready to make their mark on the Bluffton record books.
With Coach Nussbaum able to focus solely on the men’s team in 2015, the talented returners as well as the five incoming freshmen will benefit from the extra attention they receive on the practice field and game day. Five home dates in the first three weeks gives the home fans ample opportunity to support the men as they prepare for an October that features all nine Heartland Conference contests. Ohio Athletic Conference foes Baldwin Wallace, Mount Union and Otterbein all travel to Bluffton, while the Beavers also match up with Wooster and Wittenberg from the NCAC. The rival Yellow Jackets make the short trip through Putnam County on October 21 for a 3:30 p.m. meeting at the Sears Complex.
Headlining a decorated class of nine seniors is three-time All-HCAC honoree Ryan Johnson-Evers (Muskego, WI/Muskego) who helped the Beavers limit Heartland Conference opponents to an all-time low 12 goals last season. He also got it done in the classroom with his second consecutive All-HCAC selection. Scoring threats Adrian Ramirez (Archbold), Jake Headings (Cincinnati/McNicholas), John Eckenrode (Northwood/Millbury Lake) and Blake Drewes (Archbold) have the ability to pressure opposing defenses with their speed and athleticism. Making his mark off the bench in 2014 was Appiah Adubofour (Kumasi, Ghana) who rattled opponents with his quick-strike ability while doling out two assists as a junior. Daniel Mushangwe (Harare, Zimbabwe) gives Bluffton added depth in the midfield. Michael Ralph (Mansfield/Christian) was back to form as a defender a season ago after battling injuries in 2013. Also looking to return from a season-long injury in 2014 is senior keeper Chris Wagler (Leipsic/Pandora-Gilboa) who started eight matches with 40 saves as a sophomore.
Junior keepers Matt Hardman-Zimmerman (Forest City, PA), who racked up 48 saves in eight starts as a freshman and Jeff Yoder (Goshen, Ind./Bethany Christian), who turned away 88 shots in 2014, give Bluffton significant experience between the pipes heading into 2015. Grant Stutzman (Berlin/Hiland) has racked up 17 points during his first two years at Bluffton while Josh Carmack (Miamisburg) bullied opposing forwards in his second year as a starting center back.
Sophomores Braxton Mullet (Berlin/Hiland), Blake Hershberger (Canton/McKinley), Cory Roe (Swanton), Brandon Spradling (Fairfield), Nick Bondra (Highland Heights/Mayfield) and Adam Knott (Lima/Shawnee) will all see their roles expanded after gaining experience with the junior varsity team in 2014. Five freshmen add to Bluffton’s depth at key positions.
A Bluffton offense that more than doubled its scoring output from 2013 to 2014 will need to continue its steady improvement as the Beavers look for their first-ever berth in the Heartland Conference tournament. The home-heavy month of September will help Bluffton get its feet wet as the Beavers prepare for the HCAC portion of the schedule in October. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, Sept. 1, when Baldwin Wallace heads west for Bluffton’s season opener at 5 p.m. Come out and support the Beavers as they set their sights high in 2015!