Men’s Soccer 2017 Season Preview

Photo by Peter Stein '84
Photo by Peter Stein '84

2017 SEASON OUTLOOK

The 2017 Wesleyan University men's soccer team returns four of its top-five scorers from last fall, as the squad is thrilled to jump into its regular-season schedule with a 7 p.m. start on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at WPI.

The Cardinals will be led by a superb coaching staff, featuring 19th-year head coach Geoff Wheeler and assistant coaches Adrian Blackadar, Joe Cherackal, Phillip Harr and Zach Eddinger. The coaches will be preaching the importance of consistency and staying healthy throughout the season.

<COACHES CORNER WITH GEOFF WHEELER>

Wesleyan's home opener will be against Swarthmore on Saturday, Sept. 9 (6 p.m.) at Smith Field, with NESCAC competition beginning Saturday, Sept. 16 (noon) at Bowdoin.

Wheeler knows what it takes to compete against the best teams in the country, as his unit has reached the NCAA Division III Tournament five times and qualified for the NESCAC Tournament in 16 straight seasons from 2000-15.

Wesleyan reached the Sweet 16 on the national stage in 2009 and took home the NESCAC Championship for the first time in program history during the 2005 campaign. Wheeler, who ranks No. 2 in all-time wins (153-107-31) within the program, powered the eighth-seeded Cardinals to the NESCAC title game in 2015.

On the field, the Cardinals will be guided by senior captain and defender Nick Jackson. When the stakes get larger, the Vienna, Va. native rises to the occasion, as he netted the game-winning goal in the 45th minute during a 1-0 triumph against eventual-national champion Tufts on Sept. 27, 2016, in Medford, Mass. The three-year starter also excels with his communication skills and hard tackling.

"Nick is an excellent leader and communicator between the players and coaches," Wheeler said. "A captain is a coach on the field and Nick fits the role well. We are excited that he will be leading the team this fall."

Another good sign for Wesleyan is that senior forward Adam Cowie-Haskell will be returning for another season, as the standout athlete led the team in goals (eight), points (19) and game-winning goals (three) during the 2016 campaign.

The Roslindale, Mass. native posted a pair of five-point games, accomplishing the feat during a 5-0 win at John Jay on Sept. 13 and in a 3-1 win at Colby on Oct. 8. Cowie-Haskell is a two-time All-NESCAC selection (First Team in 2016, Second Team in 2015), while being named NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2014.

The Cardinals will need some of their new faces to hit the ground running, as the team must fill the void left by its 2016 captains in Charlie Gruner '17 and Danny Rubenstein '17. Gruner was a four-time All-NESCAC First Team honoree (2013-16), and totaled three goals and three assists as a senior. The Cardinals also lost goalkeeper Jack Katkavich '17, who appeared in 11 games and started nine in 2016, compiling a 1.26 goals-against average, a .735 save percentage and two shutouts.

MEET THE TEAM 

HEAD COACH GEOFF WHEELER

"There is a lot of excitement in the team right now. There is a good group of seniors with some strong leadership and a good group of young players, so I think it is a nice chemistry within the team. Our goal is to be competitive in every game and get a little bit better every day."