2016 Men's Soccer
August 18, 2016
BLUFFTON, Ohio - Bluffton University welcomes James Kusak as he takes over the reins on the men’s soccer program for the 2016 season. Kusak was hired in February, after working at Spalding University, Hendrix College and his alma mater, Centre College. He will put his team to the test against Adrian College when the Beavers travel to Michigan for their opener on Thursday, Sept. 1. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The men’s soccer team will be led by six seniors this season. Tending the net is Matt Hardman-Zimmerman (Forest City, Penn.) who racked up 121 saves last season. Fellow seniors returning alongside Zimmerman are Chris Wagler (Leipsic/Pandora-Gilboa), Alec Mast (Millersburg/Hiland), Grant Stutzman (Sugarcreek/Hiland), Josh Carmack (Miamisburg) and Blake Drewes (Archbold). “This group of seniors has a tremendous amount of experience,” Kusak said and added that, “We will count on their leadership abilities throughout the season. We expect this group to help mentor our incoming players as we progress through the season.”
Bluffton is returning four talented juniors who have played significant minutes the past two seasons. Cory Roe (Swanton), Blake Hershberger (Canton/McKinley), Brandon Spradling (Fairfield), and Adam Knott (Lima/Shawnee) give Coach Kusak options as he takes to the pitch for his first year at the helm. The new coach added, “We are excited about the returning group and expect them to help lead the program in a new direction.” Kusak added, “We spent a significant amount of time this spring discussing the qualities we want to see in a Bluffton Men’s Soccer Player and we fully expect them to embody that vision on the pitch, in the classroom and in the community.”
The men’s soccer team welcomes nine incoming freshman to the fold this season, hoping to change the culture while creating a tradition of excellence at Bluffton. Each day will be a learning process with half of the squad just a few months out of high school. The incoming freshman include: Alex Alverson (Columbus/Bishop Hartley), Kaleb Bickley (Groveport/Groveport-Madison Senior), Jerry Chen (Chengdu, China), Ezekiel Davis (Columbus/Columbus Downtown), Kyle Erwin (Attica, IN/ Attica), Nicholas Hoffman (Lima/Shawnee), Corbin Knedler (Forest/Riverdale), Aaron Pennington (Belle Center/Benjamin Logan) and Austin Siefert (Holland/Springfield Senior). “We couldn’t be more thrilled about the 2020 class that committed to continue their athletic and academic careers at Bluffton University,” stated Coach Kusak. “I have to give my assistant coach, Sean Elvert, credit for building strong relationships with these men during the interim period. Our staff is excited to see the impact these young men have on the program moving forward.”
Bluffton looks to rebuild after graduating eight seniors last season and hopes to improve on offense under first year Head Coach James Kusak. The Beavers, who were predicted to finish 10th in the pre-season HCAC coaches poll, travel to Manchester University for early season matches with Concordia University Chicago on Saturday, Sept. 3 and MacMurray University on Sunday, Sept. 4. Three straight home contests to open Heartland Conference play include a date with rival Defiance College on October 5 at 3:30 p.m. Bluffton caps off the 2016 HCAC campaign when it welcomes Transylvania on Saturday, Oct. 29. Come out and support your Beavers when they take to the pitch this fall!