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Men’s Soccer: Irish coach reloads, not rebuilds

Eric Prister | Friday, August 20, 2010

After finishing as Big East runner-up and a second-round exit from the NCAA tournament, and despite the loss of four top players to the professional level, Irish coach Bobby Clark refuses to see the upcoming season as one in need of rebuilding.

“I never look at rebuilding years,” Clark said. “I always look to reload. If we do our jobs correctly here, then we should be in a position that players are going to step up. I think every year we’ve kept very competitive, and I’m excited about what this group has shown so far.”

Clark said that the goals remain the same as every year: to compete for the Big East regular season championship, the tournament championship, and a national championship.

“The goals are always the same,” Clark said. “I always say we want to be the best team in the country, and that means playing to our potential. The Big East is a very strong conference, but I also feel that it’s well within our grasp to be a champion in the regular season. I think the goals are very difficult goals to get, but you have to have that goal at the start. A lot of teams are excited at this time, but the key is to be excited after.”

Among the returning players from last year’s squad, senior forward Jeb Brovsky is the only player to have recorded double-digit points last season. He finished the season with four goals and four assists for a total of 12 points.

“[Brovsky] is a fantastic player, so [being the offensive leader] goes without saying,” Clark said. “We lost four players to the pros last year after graduation, so we lost some very strong players, but last year we had to deal with quite a few injuries. So hopefully we can stay healthy. A lot of people can score, and [Brovsky] is certainly one of them. Obviously you miss players, but I think there will be players that can step up. I think that’s the challenge.”

Junior defenseman Aaron Maund will also need to make a big contribution for the Irish this season. Despite missing five games while playing for the U.S. under-20 national team, Maund recorded the sixth most minutes last season and started all 18 games that he was available. Sophomore midfielder Dillon Powers also played on the under-20 World Cup team.

Senior defenseman Greg Klazura has impressed Clark in preseason workouts.

“The one player who has been tremendously exciting… is Greg Klazura,” Clark said. “It’s funny because when we were in Sweden and playing professional clubs, all the pro clubs wanted to know who our left back was. He can play left back and right back, and you’re looking for these guys to start stepping up.”

Senior goalkeeper Philip Tuttle started 11 of 23 games last season in goal, and was the consensus No. 1 keeper this year for the Irish before tearing his meniscus during the offseason. In 13 appearances last season, Tuttle gave up only 9 goals and made 21 saves, recording a team-high five shutouts.

“Tuttle was pretty well going to go the whole way, but he was training with the San Jose Earthquakes and tore his meniscus, and had surgery, so he’s going to be out for the first part of the season for sure,” Clark said. “It’s really tough, because he was playing so well. That opens the door for [junior] Will Walsh, and he’s been waiting in the wings. This is his opportunity, and he’s a good goalkeeper. Willie will certainly get the chance.”

The Irish will kickoff the preseason with an exhibition game against the University of Illinois-Chicago in a game that will benefit Grassroot Soccer, an organization that benefits AIDS awareness in Africa. The game will be played Monday at Alumni Field, with a $1 donation requested to help support Grassroot Soccer.