Tigers soccer ranked 6th in poll

Published 2:56 pm Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) soccer team was picked to finish sixth out of 13 teams according to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Preseason Poll as voted on by league coaches.

Last year the Tigers went 10-7-1 overall, falling in the ODAC quarterfinals as the No. 5 seed to No. 4 Randolph-Macon College.

This year while H-SC has only one senior on the roster in Hunter Weiland, the squad has 19 returners dotting the 29-man roster, including 15 juniors and 14 student-athletes who either started at least five games or played in at least eight games in 2017.

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Leading the way offensively for the Tigers is Weiland, a midfielder who tied for the team-high in points last year with 12, courtesy of four goals and four assists.

Forward Jacob Mann also posted 12 points on four goals and four assists and is back now as a junior.

Forward Josh McCormack contributed eight points via three scores and two assists and is returning as a junior, and midfielder Connor Shaw tallied three goals and an assist and is back as a sophomore.

Eli Strong, a defender, proved to be adept at finishing, particularly on corner kicks, as he scored three goals and assisted on another in 2017. Additionally, midfielder Spell Carr tied for the team lead in assists with four to go with a goal, while midfielder P.J. LeBel contributed two scores and an assist. Strong and Carr return as juniors this year, while LeBel is a sophomore.

The Tigers return the bulk of their defensive midfield and backs from last year, losing just two starters to graduation. Strong also proved to be one of the top defenders on the team in 2017 as he started all 18 games, extending his starting streak to 34 games. Cole Burton is back in the mix as a junior after starting all 17 games he played in a season ago. He contributed a game-winning goal with less than three minutes to play against Guilford College and tacked on an assist.

Sean McMurray played in 16 games while starting eight, splitting time in the midfield and on defense. He is a junior now. Defender Brian Tarnai returns as a junior after starting 11 of 14 games in 2017.

The top two goalkeepers from last year also return in Gray Sutter, now a sophomore, and Ian Connor, now a junior. Sutter played in 11 games while starting 10, logging 946 minutes on the pitch. He posted a goals against average of just 0.86 with an 80.9 save percentage and three shutouts. Connor made eight appearances with seven starts, logging 628 minutes of action. He sported a 2.01 goals against average with a 70.2 save percentage.

The Tigers played Wednsday evening in a preseason scrimmage against Roanoke College on Hellmuth-Gibson Field. H-SC starts the regular season Friday, Aug. 31, with a 2:30 p.m. game against Johns Hopkins University on the campus of the University of Mary Washington.

The Tigers’ first home game takes place Tuesday, Sept. 4, against William Peace University at 7 p.m.