Based on last year's performance, the expectations are high this year for the Bowdoin Men's Soccer Team. Coach Brian Ainscough hopes to build off last year's success, a year in which his team won thirteen games and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. A season of great individual and team accomplishments, 2003 ended with a loss on penalty kicks to Wheaton College in the NCAA Tournament.
The prospects for this season seem great, as the Polar Bears kept all their leading scorers and have seven strong seniors on this year's squad, giving them great experience and depth. The loss of last year's graduating players should have relatively little effect on the offense, as 38 of the 39 goals scored last year came from returning players. This year's team returns three of their four first-team All-NESCAC players, including leading scorer Bobby Desilets '05, junior Andrew Russo, and First-Team All-American defenseman Danny Sullivan '05. Last year, Sullivan became only the fourth first-team All-American in Bowdoin's men's soccer history, the first since Dave DeCew, who earned the honor in 1997 and 1998. Sullivan, midfielder Tucker Hodgkins, and midfielder Ethan Roth lead the Polar Bears this year as senior tri-captains. Other seniors who will contribute considerably are forward Tom Bresnehan, an eight goal scorer last season, defensemen Bucky Jenks, and midfielder Jacques Gauna.
Coach Ainscough acknowledged the importance of having an experienced team, stating in the season preview, "The strength of our team will be our seven seniors." However, he quickly expressed confidence in his entire roster, noting that the team has "a ton of depth that will help [the team] throughout the season."
In his fifth season as head coach of the men's soccer team, Ainscough enters with a record of 47-13-7 as coach of the Polar Bears. With the extraordinary success of last year's team, Ainscough was recognized as the NESCAC Coach of the Year in 2003.
The lone uncertain position for the Polar Bears this year is goalkeeper. first-team NESCAC goalkeeper Travis Derr graduated last year, leaving an opening at goalie. Derr was a key piece to Bowdoin's success last year, contributing some impressive numbers, with 1466 minutes played, 63 saves, and a 0.80 goals against average. While Derr's performance will be difficult to match, some strong candidates have emerged to fill in the position. Juniors Greg Levin and Lucas Bare, as well as first year Nathan Lovitz, have been competing this fall for the position.
The Polar Bears added a sound recruiting class of freshmen to complement their already formidable roster. Defenseman Brendan Egan, forwards Nick Figueiredo and Wolf Grueber, and midfielders Mike Howard, Justin Ito-Adler, and Luke Welch join Lovitz as first years looking to impact the team in the future.
Last year, the men's team ended the season with a 13-2-3 record, good for a top-ten ranking in the regular season in Division 3 competition and one short of the Bowdoin record for victories in a season. They finished second in the NESCAC Conference Tournament, losing in the finals. The men's soccer team opens its season at home at 12 p.m. this Saturday against Bates.