2010 Men's Soccer
2010 Men's Soccer Preview
Senior leadership gives Beavers high hopes for 2010
August 18, 2010
By: Erin Oberly, sports information assistant
Bluffton University men's soccer team, under the direction of interim Head Coach Rick Nussbaum, is set to build upon its successes from last season as it welcomes a talented group of returners and newcomers for the 2010 campaign. A conglomerate of fresh newcomers and veteran talent will strive to finish in the top tier of the Heartland Conference this year. With key personnel changes, the Beavers are looking to best their 4-12-1 overall finish from 2009.
Nussbaum is no stranger to Bluffton soccer as he has served as assistant coach under former Head Coach Steve Smucker since 2005. Because of his experience, the Beavers can expect significant progress when their season opens on September 4 against Grace Bible College. Nussbaum also noted his optimism comes from the substantial amount of commitment and communication he received from returning players throughout the summer.
A core group of eight seniors return for their final campaign and will provide a significant amount of experience and leadership to the Beaver soccer squad. Nussbaum remarks that he has and is looking forward to "watching [the seniors] develop into the players we expect them to be." The committed ensemble includes goalkeeper Brian Good (Elida), defenders Nick Evans (Elida), Dillan Shumaker (Springfield/Shawnee), Michael Timpe (Swanton) and Andrew Johnson (Vienna, WV/Parkersburg), mid-fielders Jason Hudson (Troy) and Nolan Phelps (Monroe/Lemon-Monroe), along with forward Jacob Graham (Gomer/Elida). Phelps, Timpe, and Hudson each knocked in two goals apiece last season, while on the defensive end Good had an impressive 100 saves in 2009. Each has played an integral part in the Beaver program throughout their tenure and look to add to that in the coming season. Because of this, Nussbaum believe that "a sense of familiarity" will propel the Beavers into competing with experience behind them.
The key to Bluffton's success this fall will not only come from an experienced starting line-up due to veteran returners, but also from a fresh group of newcomers and the ability to confidently use personnel from the bench, something the Beavers have struggled with in the past. Nussbaum looks to "assimilate and blend in freshman right away", as the talented group of freshman look to contribute to the Beaver effort. Nussbaum also goes on to note that he has "high expectations" for the new incoming class as they are the "foundation of the next wave of success"; their leadership development will be vital. Dustin Estep (Jamestown/Greenview), Tyler Happensack (Powell/Olentangy Liberty), John Harbeck (Mansfield/Christian), Dylan Matthews (Arlington), Chris Pedersen (West Salem/Northwestern), Ahmad Rahat, Zach Sturm (Grove City), Kevin Williams (Pandora/Pandore-Gilboa), and Nick Wiseman (Streetsboro) are among the newcomers ready to make an impact for the Beavers this fall.
Also new to the Bluffton men's soccer program is first-year graduate assistant coach Jason Cunningham. Fresh off his tenure at Cedarville University, Nussbaum says that Cunningham will have much to contribute to the team this year. "Jason has a very positive energy about him," noted Nussbaum, and it is this excitement and energy that the Beavers will look to this year under their new coaching leadership.
The Beavers are striving to improve in yet another competitive HCAC slate for the 2010 campaign. While Nussbaum believes that his starting line-up can "compete with any HCAC team," it will be the depth in the bench and fresh legs that will be necessary to make the big difference and aid the Beavers in getting results.
Bluffton opens up its 2010 campaign at home against Grace Bible College at 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 4. They then hit the road to compete at the Menno Soccer Classic in Lansdale, PA, where they will take on Mennonite foes Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College on September 10-11, followed by a trip to Cincinnati Christian on September 14.