Men’s Soccer Opens 2009 Season at Home vs. Lehigh

Providence, RI- The Brown University men’s soccer team is gearing up for an exciting 2009 campaign as it opens its season against Lehigh University at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6, at Stevenson Field.

With an extremely tough schedule in 2009, the Bears will be battle tested early with non-conference games that include preseason No. 5 ranked SMU, St. John’s, who reached the 2008 Final Four, WCC Champions San Francisco, runner-up Santa Clara, as well as Boston University and Rutgers. But year-in and year-out, Noonan will get as much as he can out of his core group of veterans and his 10 newcomers to place the squad in the hunt for its 20th Ivy League title.

Brown’s 2008 squad featured a youthful presence with its freshman and sophomore class making up more than half the roster. The Bears return just five starters from last year’s edition and have big shoes to fill after the departure of unanimous first team All-Ivy selection and leading scorer, Rhett Bernstein ‘09. Brown also lost four-year starter and captain Steven Sawyer ’09 and 2007 leading scorer Dylan Sheehan ’09.

Of the eight players returning for their second season, six of them have played in at least 10 contests during their freshmen season, including two with double-digit starts. They join an equally strong junior class and a hard-working senior class that help form a solid nucleus of returners.

OFFENSE:

Brown fans will continue to see an explosive, creative and attack-oriented team that will be led by second leading scorer junior Jon Okafor (Verona, NJ) and senior T.J. Thompson (Atkinson, NH). Okafor posted three goals last season and two assists for Bruno in 2008, as Thompson started in nine of 14 contests and notched one goal and posted two assists.

Adding depth to the front line are sophomores Sean Rosa (Montreal, Quebec) and Austin Mandel (Tarzana, CA). Both expected to play a key role, Rosa competed in 14 games and received 12 starts last year. Mandel will add quickness to the offense and has the potential to be one Brown’s top goal scorers this season. As a rookie, he saw action in all 17 of Bruno’s games last year and tallied one goal.

TJ Popolizio (Rexford, NY) will add strength and versatility to Brown’s offense, along with freshman Mitch Justus (Ashville, NC).
Justus was a four-year letter winner from West Henderson High School. He guided his squad to an undefeated record and a conference championship his senior year, and was selected as All-Area and All-Conference four times, All-Region three times and was a tow-time All-State selection.


MIDFIELD:

Leading Brown’s midfield is second team All-Ivy selection senior Nick Elenz-Martin (Encinitas, CA). Elenz-Martin received Brown’s Heinz Kubel award, which is given to the best offensive player. He started in 14 of his 15 games played, and tallied three goals, which included two game-winners.

Joining Elenz-Martin is sophomore Rob Medairos (Stafford, VA), who saw action in 13 games and handed out an assist for the Bears last season. He earned a spot on the Aaron Olitsky Memorial/Nike Soccer Classic and is expected to play an even bigger role for Bruno this year.

Senior captain Thomas Thunell (Columbia, SC), and sophomores Taylor Gorman (Freeport, ME) and Jay Hayward (Acton, MA) will also add depth to Brown’s middle line. Thunell’s senior leadership both on and off the field will add strength to the defense, while Gorman and Hayward will add offensive power. Gorman tallied one assist last season, and Hayward posted two assists in his eight games.

Also seeing time at midfield will be sophomore Mike Manella (Toluca Lake, CA), and rookies Bobby Belair (Myrtle Beach, SC), Max Fowler (Newport, RI), Thomas McNamara (West Nyack, NJ) and Joseph Stall (Tulsa, OK).

McNamara, a four-year varsity letter winner hailing from Don Bosco Preparatory, received first team All-New Jersey, All-North Jersey, All-Country and All-League during his senior season. He was a member of FC West Chester and guided the squad to three Eastern New York State Cup Championships. McNamara also attended the U-18 US National Team Camp, and was a Super Y League National Team Player in 2007 and 2008.

Belair, a four-year center midfield and a three-year captain from Socastee High School, combined for 35 goals and 16 assists during his senior year. He was named the Sun News Toast of the Coast Player of the Year, Regional Player of the Year, and was selected to play in the Clash of the Carolinas. Stall led his high school squad to two Southwest Preparatory Conference Championships and was named All-SPC his senior season.

DEFFENSE:

Brown will continue to display an organized and disciplined defense that has the potential to be one of the best in the country. While the team lost both Bernstein and hard-nosed defender Stephen Sawyer ’09, there are a lot of questions as to who will step up and help captaiN David Walls (Leeds, England) hold down the defense. Walls, selected as a team captain this year, played and started in all 17 games for Bruno in 2008 and played in 17 of 18 games during his rookie campaign. Last year, Walls scored one goal and dished out three assists, and played 1,550 minutes, the most out of anyone on the Brown squad.

Junior Ian Smith (Arlington, TX) was going to play a key role in Brown’s defensive efforts this season but unfortunately has been sidelined due to an injury sustained during pre-season. Noonan is expecting Evan Coleman (Amherst, MA) and junior Sean McGrath (Indian Orchard, MA) to help fill the void.

Coleman, an adidas-Brown Soccer Classic All-Tournament Team selection, played in 14 games for Bruno and handed out one assist. He was awarded the team’s Britton Chichester award, which is given to the freshman that contributed the most to the team. McGrath, who competed in four games in 2008, will add quickness to the back line.

Newcomers Kevin Gavey (Fairfield, CT), Ryan McDuff (Plano, TX), Dylan Remick (Inverness, IL) and Eric Robertson (San Antonio, TX) will add depth to the defensive unit.

GOALKEEPING:

Noonan will rely heavily on 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-Ivy selection Paul Grandstrand (Orono, MN) in goal this season. Grandstrand split time in net with Honorable Mention All-Ivy selection, Jarrett Leech ’09. During his rookie campaign, Grandstrand allowed just 10 goals, posted five shutouts and tallied 43 saves on the year and posted a spectacular 10-1-1 record. Last season, Grandstrand saw action in nine games and went 3-5 overall with three shutouts.

Also adding strength will be senior Jarrod Schlenker (Cranford, NJ) and newcomer Sam Kernan-Schloss (Arlington, VA). Kernan-Schloss helped guide Sidwell Friends to an undefeated season during his senior season and earned an outstanding 55-4-1 overall record during his three-year varsity career. He also combined for 36 shutouts in net, ranking third in the Washington Post Metro rankings.