BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Birmingham-Southern College men's soccer program enters its first year under new head coach Greg Vinson with a wealth of experience on the pitch and on the sidelines. Vinson is no stranger to the program, having served as former head coach Preston Goldfarb's assistant for 20 years.
"It is my honor to lead the Birmingham-Southern men's soccer program as we head into our 34th season," remarked Vinson. "There is so much tradition that was built under the guidance of long-time coach Preston Goldfarb, and I look forward to now carrying the torch."
Vinson's first task as head coach was to find a top-notch assistant coach.
"There is no one that better exemplifies the core values of the BSC men's soccer program than Joe Nasco," Vinson added. "His passion for the game, for our college, and for our program makes him the perfect choice and I am thrilled that coach Nasco has come home to BSC."
Vinson and Nasco lead a team who only lost three seniors from the 2015 squad that went 11-5-2 and skirted with a Top 25 ranking during the season. The 2015 Panthers tore through the early part of the season, accumulating an 8-0-1 start. The one tie was also the highlight of the first half of the season when BSC played perennial Top 10 program Washington University to a scoreless draw on Washington's home turf. The undefeated Panthers then entered Southern Athletic Association play and battled to a 3-3-1 conference record with wins against Berry, Centre and Sewanee. BSC suffered losses to Millsaps (2015 conference champions), Oglethorpe, and Hendrix; and tied against Rhodes. The remaining non-conference game against perennial powerhouse Emory University ended in a double overtime 1-0 loss.
"Our early season success, including a huge tie against Wash U., and our later battle with Emory to double overtime proves that BSC can play with anyone in the country," remarked Vinson. "We must take our disappointing quarterfinal loss in the SAA Tournament last year and let that fuel our journey back to a conference tournament championship."
The 2016 team is a senior heavy roster with ten players slated for graduation.
"This is a very special class of seniors," said Vinson. "I think back to their freshman year, and in the second game of the season against Top 25 Methodist University, six of them were on the field at the end of that double overtime victory. They have had a big impact from the beginning and I am excited to see their experience and leadership potential come to fruition this season."
The Panthers relied on several players to score goals in 2015 with injuries sidelining many players for significant amounts of time. "Having everyone healthy and contributing at the same time will be exciting," said Vinson. Senior Spencer Nichols (2015: 17 games, five goals, one assist, 11 points) leads the returning forwards in points, with senior Patrick Erickson (2015: 10 games, four goals, two assists, 10 points) contributing heavily as well. Junior Adam Clausen (2015: 18 games, two goals) and senior Dylan Rose (2015: 13 games, one goal, one assist, three points) added to the Panthers' goal total up front. Senior Ryan Gill (2015: four games) and junior Bryant Hamby (2015: 11 games) also saw action up top. Newcomer forward this year is freshman Jackson Lynn (Homewood, Ala./Homewood High School).
Possession is the name of the game for BSC to be successful, and the midfielders returning for the Panthers are set to handle that job. Point production in the midfield came from junior Alec Medd (2015: 17 games, two goals, four points), sophomore Brother Swagler (2015: 18 games, one goal, two assists, four points) and sophomore Tommy Rizzoli (2015: 18 games, one assist). Providing valuable depth was junior Trey O'Bryant (2015: 14 games, two starts), junior Colin Mattheai (2015: 10 games, one start), and sophomore Brett Feringa (2015: 10 games). Senior Conner Quiggle, who was relied on heavily his freshman and sophomore seasons, will take the field again this fall. "After being sidelined in 2015 due to surgery recovery, I am excited to see Conner back in our midfield," said Vinson. "He was sorely missed last season." New to the midfield for 2016 is freshman Ryan Hepp (Homewood, Ala./Homewood High School).
Experienced is the best way to describe the Panthers' back line that will be expected to anchor the team defensively. "Our team's leading goal scorer, senior Dallas Coyne (2015: 18 games, 18 starts, six goals, two assists, 14 points), was a very versatile player last season, playing in several positions beyond his natural defensive one," commented Vinson. Senior Chris Duffey (2015: 17 games, nine starts, three assists), junior Tylan Jones (2015: 16 games, 13 starts, two assists), senior Josh Wild (2015: 17 games, 17 starts, 1 assist), and senior Luke Etheridge (2015: 13 games, 10 starts, one assist) also added production out of the BSC's defense. Sophomore Luke Hambleton (2015: 15 games, 15 starts) was also a solid presence. Senior Corey Smith, who was recovering from surgery in 2015, will be back on the field and adding depth in 2016. Newcomer freshman Parker Sturm (Hoover, Ala./Spain Park High School) looks to join this back line that only gave up 17 goals for the whole season.
Four Panthers will mind the nets this season, and much is expected after the 2015 goalkeepers secured the lowest goals against average in the program's history (0.89 GAA). Junior Marvin Castellanos (2015:14 games, 14 starts, 1.09 GAA) returns with the most minutes from last season. Sophomore Galen Curry (2015: six games; five starts, 0.39 GAA) was relied on to provide solid coverage in very important games. Sophomore Will Meehan (2015: one game) rounded out the goalkeeper trio last season. Newcomer freshman Kurt Moore (Euharlee, Ga./Darlington Academy) will provide even more depth in 2016. "I am excited for coach Nasco to work with this talented group of goalkeepers," Vinson said. "What an opportunity they have to train under someone with his accomplishments and passion."