Tigers picked sixth in ODAC soccer poll

Published 5:24 pm Thursday, September 1, 2022

Hampden-Sydney College has been picked sixth in the 2022 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll. The Tigers garnered 88 points for sixth among the 13 schools. H-SC finished 6-8-2 last season and 3-5-1 in the ODAC, and were the eighth seed in the ODAC Tournament.

Washington and Lee University was picked to finish first with 143 points, followed by the University of Lynchburg’s 133 points, Roanoke College’s 120 points, Randolph-Macon College’s 110 points and Virginia Wesleyan University’s 89 points rounding out the top five. After the Tigers are Randolph College (86), Averett University (62), Bridgewater College (55), Shenandoah University (53), Guilford College (32), Ferrum College (26), and Eastern Mennonite University (17) to round out the poll.

“We are looking forward to a very competitive ODAC season as usual and hopefully prove that this preseason poll doesn’t carry a ton of weight,” said Head Coach Tommy DiNuzzo.

This marks DiNuzzo’s sixth year at the helm for the Tigers. During his time he has a 42-29-5 record in five seasons and a 27-14-3 record in the ODAC, including two unbeaten campaigns in the conference in 2019 and the 2021 spring season.

He returns 21 lettermen among the 33 man roster, including six of the nine players who played in all 16 games last season.

“We are looking forward to beginning the season and feel like the guys have done an excellent job the past couple weeks,” said DiNuzzo. “As usual we will play a very competitive out of conference schedule which will hopefully prepare us for the ODAC regular season.”

Forwards

The Tigers return their top-three scoring forwards from the 2021 season in senior Michael Ogenyi of Virginia Beach, junior Emory Davis of Palmyra and senior Kade Wheeler of Blacksburg. Ogenyi and Davis scored four goals apiece while Wheeler found the back of the net three times. All three played in all 16 games in 2021 with Davis getting the majority of the starts with 13, followed by Wheeler with nine and Ogenyi with seven.

Depth at the forward spot can be expected from senior Attila Buri of Leesburg and fellow classmate Josiah King of South Boston who played in all but one game in 2021 while scoring one goal and tallying an assist.

There are a number of newcomers at the forward position looking to earn playing time this year. Freshmen Charlie Letson of Wilmington, North Carolina, Pierce Boerner of Midlothian, Drew Miller of Lakewood Ranch, Florida, Walker Stebbings of Forest and transfer-junior Aidan Willard of Powhatan.

Midfield

The Tigers bring back their three highest minute earners in the midfield. Senior Boyce Purdie of Clinton, North Carolina started all 11 of his appearances finding the back of the net three times, junior Ben Beason of Cary, North Carolina made 12 appearances with 10 starts and scored a goal, and sophomore Jack Delaney of Virginia Beach played in all 16 games making 14 starts while scoring twice and assisting on one goal. Looking to join them in the midfield is senior Jacob Siler of Charlotte, North Carolina who appeared in all 16 games making two starts and scoring two goals.

Depth in the midfield is expected from junior John Alexander of Wake Forest, North Carolina, fellow classmate Declan Shaw of Durham, North Carolina and senior William Thornton of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Freshmen Mason Forrest of Poquoson, Landon Niday of Roanoke, Michael Farmer of Virginia Beach, Zakky Johnston of Meherrin and Victor Ovalle-Mares of Atlanta, Georgia will all look to earn playing time and impress early on.

Defense

H-SC returns their entire defensive starting group, led by sophomore Justin Varela of Midlothian who started all 16 games during his freshman season. He will be joined on the backline by junior Stefan Ngoh of Goldvein, senior Connor Brooks of Springfield, and junior Ethan Farmer of Chesterfield. Ngoh and Brooks started all 14 of the games they played in while Farmer made 11 starts in 14 appearances.

The Tigers have returning depth on the backline with junior Jackson Burkhart of Raleigh, North Carolina who made 14 appearances including five starts, senior Matt Johnson of Virginia Beach who made 10 appearances with four starts, and sophomore Sam Wiler of Stafford who made three appearances. Freshman Uriel Aguirre of Woodbridge will look to earn playing time in a crowded defense.

Goalkeepers

H-SC brings back one goalkeeper with experience last year in sophomore Connor Kitson of Wake Forest, North Carolina who made four starts and had a 3-1 record. Also competing for playing time in net will be sophomore Wills Huddleston of Baldwin and freshman Garrett Hodges of Virginia Beach.