Injuries force Lancers to adjust

Published 12:17 pm Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Longwood University men’s soccer squad is a significantly different team now from the one originally on paper.

Injuries have ravaged the Lancers’ forward line, sidelining redshirt sophomore Willy Miezan, junior Andreas Aderiye and freshman Sammy Dupoy.

Miezan will be gone for the season, a particularly big blow to Longwood, as he led the Lancers in scoring last season with 13 goals, ranking among the top 10 in the NCAA and second in the Big South.

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Miezan’s tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee in the Aug. 13 exhibition match against host Virginia.

“It was right after the kickoff, and I was pressing to a defender, and he took a big touch, and the ball was loose, and I was trying to change direction and go get it, and my knee just got caught in the grass and just twisted and I heard it pop,” he said.

It was the first major injury of Miezan’s college career, coming at a particularly unfortunate time for him and his team.

“Honestly, coming into this season, I was really excited,” he said. “I had big goals as far as the team goes and personal goals, so when that happened, obviously, that was a blow. But after maybe the first week, I kind of told myself to start looking for next year, next season, see what happens, and just thinking forward how quickly I can recover and come back.”

Lancers Head Coach Jon Atkinson expressed confidence in Miezan’s ability to overcome this hurdle.

“I think, first off, Willy’s spirit is very enduring,” the coach said. “He has a very positive outlook to life. While some guys may feel the world’s falling in, Willy has things in perspective, and that’s one of his great qualities I think he brings to the team. And also his positive energy will also allow him to recover from this quicker than most, as well.”

Aderiye could be gone for the season, as well, though Dupoy should be back, but for now, opportunities are abundant for other players on the roster.

“While we may not have double-digit scorers there — who knows — it’s an opportunity for everyone to kind of chip in for the success of the team,” Atkinson said. “We are putting people in positions that they are embracing, but may need some time on the job to work out certain specifics.”

Spending time up front have been senior Finnlay Wyatt, freshman Max Poelker and redshirt sophomore Mo Jalloh.

Poelker contributed a goal to the Lancers’ 4-0 season-opening win against VMI last Friday in Lexington.

“There’s no easy games in Division I,” Atkinson said. “I think going on the road and getting a 4-0 victory was a very good day for Longwood men’s soccer.

The Lancers visit George Mason on Saturday at 7 p.m.