Beavers prepared to compete for berth in HCAC tournament
August 12, 2009
By: Justin Crosier, sports information intern
Click here to view the 2009 HCAC pre-season coaches poll (PDF)
|The Beavers will look to continue their ascent as a program right where they finished
a year ago. Returning 10 of 11 starters from a team that finished 8-8, there is a
great deal of momentum and optimism as Bluffton has made steady improvements during
the past few seasons. A 2008 season-finale victory over perennial-power Transylvania
has Coach Smucker and the Bluffton University men's program on the verge of taking
the program to the next level, aiming for a berth in the Heartland Conference tournament.
||Defensively the team will count on junior all-conference organizing back Nolan Phelps (Monroe/Lemon-Monroe) to lead the charge. A talented supporting cast of marking backs
Brandon Kindell (Kenton/Kenton), Nick Schlabach (Millersburg/West Holmes) and Nick Evans (Elida/Elida) will solidify the Beavers defensively. Competing for Bluffton in goal
will be two-year starter Brian Good (Elida/Elida) and sophomore Dan Saville (Toledo/Central Catholic) as well as a pair of newcomers.
|Helping to generate and maintain Bluffton's possession game in the midfield is senior
Daniel Tinch (Middleton/Madison). Other individuals that will play significant roles in keeping
the ball for the Beavers are senior outside midfielder Louie Cancasci (Twinsburg/Twinsburg), juniors Jason Hudson (Troy/Troy) and Michael Timpe (Swanton/Swanton) and sophomore Seth Hertenstein (St. Marys/Memorial).
Offensively the Beavers will look for Steve Rucki (Millersburg/West Holmes) and All-Heartland Conference performer Jacob Graham (Gomer/Elida) to take the reins and fill in the gap left by All-HCAC forward Nate Flath (Wadsworth/Wadworth) who graduated as the fourth-most prolific scorer in Bluffton
history with 33 goals.
Coach Smucker also has high expectations for his returning group. "Our goals are simple
this fall; compete every minute on the pitch, attain a spot in the conference tournament
and then see where we go from there. Consistency will play a large role in achieving
these goals; making good decisions both on and off the field, focusing on the details,
and taking care of each other. These are the ways in which we hope to succeed this
The Beavers open their 2009 campaign at Goshen College with a 7 p.m. kickoff on Wednesday,
September 2. The team will seek to make its goals a reality when Bluffton opens Heartland
Conference play on September 26 at Mount St. Joseph. A home contest against long-time
rival Defiance College is slated for 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14.