Men’s soccer team prepares for season

Cleats dug into fresh turf as 33 Guilford College men’s soccer players warmed up to play their first game on Sept. 1. The team laced up and stepped out onto Averett University’s field ready to assert their talent, and with a 2–1 win, they achieved their goal.

“The (Old Dominion Athletic Conference) pre-season poll predicted us to finish 10th; I would say we’re going to finish top 4,” said senior defender and captain Lucas Prillaman. “We started out right so hopefully we’ll keep that going.”

Prillaman is coming into his first year being captain. Starting in 17 games last season, he was named to the 2014 – 2015 Academic All-ODAC Team. This season he is a starter at right back.

This year’s opener was the first time in three years that the Quakers began the season with a win.

“(The win) felt great, especially against a team we should have had better results against the last couple of years” said senior defender and captain Jake Elsey. “(Last season) was kind of a rebuilding season for us, and this year I think we have a lot more talent and a lot more opportunity to do well.”

Elsey is a second year captain — he started in 17 games last season with nine shots at goal, racked up three points on one goal and one assist and was twice named to Guilford’s Student-Athlete Honor Roll. This season Elsey is a starter at center mid-field.

Guilford finished last season with a 5–11–2 overall record and a 4–5–2 conference record.

“I think our last season was a bit of a fluke due to injuries and a few players running into problems,” said junior defender Chase Begiun.“We lost some of our key players and it kind of led to our downfall towards the end of the season.”

This season the boys are looking forward to a fresh start. The team of 33 is almost equally split between new and old players. Other than the captains, some of the key veteran’s from last season include junior forward Christian Torres, junior midfielder Jonny Goffredi and junior goalkeeper Eric Hayes.

“Last season we were still relatively young, this year we have a larger group of upperclassmen,” said Prillaman.

Aong with that veteran leadership the Quakers added 16 new players — 14 being first-years and two being transfers.

“It’s been pretty welcoming — a lot of the seniors have made it really easy to transition,” said first-year defender Robert Cornelius. “We are really trying to turn over a new leaf.”

Cornelius is a first-year that could come in and make an instant impact. Coming from Forbush High School in East Bend, North Carolina, he is a starter at center back.

“He came in great shape and ready to play,” said head coach Jeff Bateson, “He’s a great guy and a good player.”

The Quakers are thinking long-term with these first-years.

“They are quite good,” said Bateson. “There are a couple freshmen right now making a very big impact, and I can see as the season goes on and they get used to playing there will some others to step in and do really well. I think we have the ability to win the championship if we all come together.”

In terms of building team cohesion, these guys are ready to work. Coming from a successful preseason, they are on the right track with team building.

“It’s definitely a work in progress — there are a lot of things that can always be improved upon,” said Elsey. “Coach tries to emphasize cohesion and communication within the team, but it’s definitely something that has to come from within the group.

“You have to make sure the team is focused, make sure that there are goals in mind, and that you can implement those goals.”

One trait everyone on the team shares is a love for the game.

“The feeling of just going out there and playing, its kind of like my first love,” said Elsey. “It’s something that I’ve grown up with my whole life — just going out there and lacing my boots up and getting on the pitch, it’s something that can’t be beat.”

That love of the game is easily translated on the field when you watch this team play. Looking at an electrifying season, the team is looking forward to a high attendance to the games. “It’s all about getting the word out,” said Prillamen, “and get your friends to come out — it can get intense.”

If you are looking to support the team, you can find their schedule on the Guilford athletic website.