Men's Soccer Season Preview
September 3, 2013
Written by: Kyler Ludlow, Graduate Assistant for Athletic Communications
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- Expectations for the Sailfish XI are high coming into the 2013 season. After a year in which the Sailfish cracked the NCAA rankings for the first time, reaching as high as No. 10, topping the 2012 season for the Sailfish could prove difficult. The squad won a Palm Beach Atlantic record 16 matches, including a 5-2 home record, and a fine 6-1-1 record on the road. The hopes remain high for the coming season because of the key contributors returning for the ‘Fish.
The NCAA Division II, two-time goals leader, Kenny Hogg, returns for his final season in the PBA uniform. After a 2011 season in which the Irving, Scotland, native scored 23 goals en route to 48 points, it was hard to imagine Hogg having a better year. Yet, the striker performed beyond expectations in 2012, scoring a NCAA DII-best and PBA record-breaking 29 goals, on his way to a DII high of 63 total points. The senior spent the 2013 summer perfecting his game as a member of the Professional Development League’s Ocala Stampede, where he scored a team-best nine goals and tallied a team high of 20 points in 14 games played. The Stampede were also the Southeast Division Champions.
Hogg’s primary scoring partner from the 2012 PBA season is also returning to the pitch for one final year. Evan Singlar, who had the team’s leading assist total (15) as well as the second-best goals mark (8) returns to pair up with Hogg to form one of the South Region’s most dangerous scoring tandems. Singlar, who hails from Currituck, N.C., saw action in 21-of-22 games for the Sailfish, but at times had his minutes limited because of nagging injuries. With a summer to heal, the senior is primed to help lead the Sailifish to the NCAA post-season for the first time in program history.
Other key returners from the senior class include some of the biggest contributors on the team. Defenders Chris Karafilov and Tyler Sanders, as well as midfielder Kevin Ireland are back on the field after solid 2012 seasons. Karafilov led the squad in minutes played with 1,874, and also tallied the most goals among defenders with two. Sanders missed considerable time in the 2012 campaign because of a broken foot, but looks to solidify the back line with his solid play. Ireland tallied a second-best six assists while patrolling the midfield for 1,492 minutes. Coach Gomez’s squad will rely heavily on other returners to continue their development as well. Forward AJ Black was third on the team in total points with 16, scoring six goals and tacking on four assists. The junior made leaps and bounds from his freshman season, and his ascension as a scoring threat will help lead the way to PBA’s success.
Others returning include midfielders Melo Matutu, and Cameron Roberts, as well as defenders Andy Garcia and Brandon Langenberg. Matutu (4 goals, 2 assists) and Roberts (6 goals, 2 assists) provide solid play both ways, as well as a knack for finding the back of the net. Perhaps the biggest boost will come from Garcia and Langeberg, who both made considerable contributions (1,637 and 1,826 minutes played respectively) on the back line, and will be counted on for continued progression in 2013.
The key to the 2013 season will rest in goal, where senior Steven Bush and sophomore Austin Spagnola are set to battle it out as the teams’ top keeper. Both players made 18 saves during the 2012 campaign, with Spagnola holding the edge in goals-against average (3 GA, 0.44 GAA).
With a solid core (including 10 of 11 starters from the final game of the season) returning, the Sailfish are excited about the season at hand. Add to the mix the group of incoming players, and there is reason for the NCAA’s South Region to Fear the Fish!
The 2013 schedule will once again provide some of the top competition from the South Region and beyond. The first match of the season is to be played at home against Colorado Christian, giving the ‘Fish a chance to showcase and hone their skills before taking on the NCAA DII defending National Champion Lynn University Fighting Knights.
In total, the Sailfish play six home matches, including dates with South Region foes Florida Tech and Rollins in the latter part of the season. PBA also plays eight of nine schools in the competitive Sunshine State Conference.
With the combination of talented returners and newcomers, PBA looks to make a splash in the 2013 season!