MEN'S SOCCER LOOKS TO BUILD ON STELLAR 2009 CAMPAIGN

The University of New Hampshire men's soccer team kicks off the 2010 campaign with high hopes of building on its impressive 2009 season. Finishing out the year with a 9-7-2 record, the Wildcats earned the No. 1 seed in the America East Tournament, their first regular-season title since 1994 and their first outright title ever.

The Wildcats wrapped up the America East regular season with a 2-1 win over Binghamton University on Oct. 28 to extend their regular season unbeaten streak to seven games (6-0-1) and finish the conference schedule undefeated. Moreover, it was the first time since 1997 that a team completed the conference schedule without a loss and was UNH's best conference record since also compiling a 6-0-1 mark in 1994.

New Hampshire ranked as high as No. 5 in the region on the season, receiving five votes in the national poll following the team's last regular season matchup against Binghamton. Additionally, the 'Cats moved up to 38th in the NCAA men's soccer RPI rankings in October, a standing that was the highest among America East schools at the time. UNH earned the impressive mark after racking up road wins against then 15th-ranked Boston University (Oct. 7) and then 25th-ranked UMBC (Oct. 10) in back-to-back outings.

Brad Hilton

New Hampshire's stellar season didn't go without merit as the program collected its fair share of postseason honors. Head coach Rob Thompson and his staff took home Coaching Staff of the Year honors, while seven Wildcats received postseason honors, including Defender of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year. Three 'Cats were named to the All-Conference First Team and the All-Rookie Team, while one was selected to the All-Conference Second Team.

Despite losing a talented and productive senior class, Thompson returns 18 letterwinners to go along with six skilled newcomers, providing depth and a plethora of talent heading into 2010.

Dylan George (Bangor, Maine) looks to anchor the Wildcats' offense this season, as he finished last season second on the team in every scoring category. George, who played in all 18 games for the 'Cats in 2009, finished with 11 points on four goals and three assists, all of which were career highs. George posted multiple-point efforts in three games in 2009, however, his most memorable performance came against Binghamton when he scored two goals to propel the Wildcats to a 2-1 victory on Oct. 28. George's four-point total against the Bearcats was a career high and was the first time the forward tallied multiple goals in a game, earning him America East Player of the Week honors on Nov. 2.

In addition to George, the Wildcats also return offensive threat Jordan Thomas (Mohnton, Pa.), who as a freshman ranked third on the squad in total points. The athletic forward played in all 18 games and finished the 2009 campaign with seven points on three goals and one assist.

Charlie Roche (Haverhill, Mass.) is another freshmen standout who should give the 'Cats some offensive punch after earning America East All-Rookie Team honors in 2009. The versatile Roche, who played both forward and midfield last season, finished the year with five points on two goals and one assist.

Dylan George

Junior Jon Harris (Amherst, N.H.) rejoins the team after sitting out last season and will look to build on a 2008 campaign in which he saw action in eight games. Sophomore Antti Arvola (Espoo, Finland) will also add experience upfield, as he appeared in four games, including one start last year.

New Hampshire returns nearly everyone from a backfield that proved to be one of the most formidable in the America East last season. The Wildcats posted a goals against average of 0.55 and three shutouts in America East play, both top honors in the conference. Overall the 'Cats were equally impressive, earning top honors in the conference in both GAA (0.92) and goals allowed per game (0.94).

Senior Robin Gerum (Kullavik, Sweden) will once again help anchor the Wildcat backfield, as he looks to build on a successful junior campaign in which he posted three points on one goal and one assist. Gerum's lone goal on the season proved to be a valuable one as he found the back of the net in the 71st minute for the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Vermont on Oct. 17.

Junior Alex Russell (Harisburg, Pa.) should also provide solid production for UNH, as he ranked second among all defensemen on the squad in total points last season, finishing 2009 with four points on two assists and one goal.            

Senior Joe Corsello (York, Maine), who played in all 18 games last season, will also add defensive prowess and experience to the backfield. Joining Corsello will be by sophomore Alex Hussein (Haverhill, Mass.), who played in 17 games and earned America East All-Rookie Team honors last season.

Sophomores Ryan McNabb (Downingtown, Pa.) and Turner Davis (Barrington, R.I.) also figure to contribute in 2010. McNabb saw action in 10 games, including five starts last season. Davis makes the switch to back this season after playing at midfielder last year and will add talent and depth to the position. 

New Hampshire also welcomes in newcomer Jeffrey Turner (Blandon, Pa.) who last season led Fleetwood High School to a 26-2-0 record on their way to a PIAA State Semi-Final finish.

The Wildcats welcome back two senior goalkeepers who should have a major role in the UNH's success in 2010. 

Colin O'Donnell

Senior Colin O'Donnell (Springfield, Mass.) looks to pick up right where he left off last season after he proved to be a rock in net for the 'Cats, ranking first in the conference in goals against average and save percentage with marks of 0.76 and .831, respectively with an 8-5-2 record. O'Donnell's stellar junior campaign didn't go without merit as the goalkeeper earned America East All-Conference First Team honors as well as the conference's Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Fellow senior Chris Devine (Hampton, N.H.), who saw action in four games last season and averaged a team-best 4.5 saves per game, should once again provide solid production in net. Junior Patrick Ryan (Weymouth, Mass.) and sophomore Taylor Deogburn (Kingston, Mass.) will also be available for net action.

Senior Marcus Barr (Wallingford, Pa.) and junior captain Brad Hilton (Merrimack, N.H.) are expected to anchor the midfield and help set the Wildcat offense in motion once again this season.

Barr, who saw action in 10 games for the Wildcats last season, will provide experience and talent to the midfield as he is expected to provide solid production. Hilton returns to the Wildcats looking to build on a solid 2009 campaign that earned him America East All-Conference Second Team honors. Hilton, who played in all 18 games for the 'Cats last year, finished the season with three points all on assists, two of which came in wins against Bryant (9/26) and Hartford (10/14).

Sophomore Josh Bronner (Belchertown, Mass.) returns to the Wildcats after earning America East All-Rookie Team honors last season. Selected as the team's Most Improved Player last season, Bronner totaled three points on one goal and an assist, while seeing action in all 18 games.

Senior Greg Brown (Salem, N.H.) saw action in four games, including three starts last season and will prove to add experience to the position. Additionally, sophomore Gustav Nilsson (Pixbo, Sweden) should also see significant playing time after seeing action in 10 games, including three starts last year. 

New Hampshire welcomes in newcomers Byron Greenwood (Portsmouth, N.H.), Cody Cormier (Bangor, Maine), Matthew Weinstein (Anchorage, Alaska), Robert Palumbo (Kingston, N.H.), Steven Palumbo (Kingston, N.H.), Ugochukwu Uche (Ann Arbor, Mich.) who look to add depth and talent to the position.

Greenwood, who was named to the All-State Second Team his senior year, joins the 'Cats after helping lead St. Thomas Aquinas to the New Hampshire Class I state finals in 2008. Cormier comes to UNH after a standout four-year career at Bangor High School where he was named the KVAC All-Conference Player of the Year and received All-Academic and All-State honors as a senior. Weinstein will also contribute after being named an All-Conference honoree as both a junior and senior at Robert Service High School.

Robert Palumbo joins the Wildcats after completing a post-graduate year at Bridgton Academy where he led the team in scoring with 18 goals and 13 assists as the Wolverines finished the 2009 season with a 14-0-1 record. His twin brother Steven, who also completed a post-graduate year at Bridgton Academy, was recently named one of the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2010 by TopDrawerSoccer.com and should see action this season. Uche will also add depth to the midfield after garnering All-Conference, All-District, and All-State honors last season at Pioneer High School.

The Wildcats kick off the regular season by hosting the 21st annual UNH Nike Fall Soccer Classic on Sept. 4 and 6 at Bremner Field. In that span the 'Cats face off against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Sept. 4) before finishing off the tournament with a matchup against Central Connecticut University (Sept. 6).
The Wildcats follow up the tournament when they hit the road for the University of Vermont's Smith Barney Classic to take on Cornell (Sept. 10) and Presbyterian (Sept. 12).

New Hampshire plays three of its next four games in Durham with matchups against Iona (Sept. 18), Bryant (Sept. 22) and Fairfield (Sept. 28). UNH's lone road contest during that stretch is against UMass (Sept. 25) at Rudd Field in a non-conference rematch from last season when the two squads finished with a 0-0 tie in double-overtime at the Smith Barney Nike Soccer Classic.

The 'Cats kick off the month of October with another trip to Vermont for their conference opener against the Catamounts (Oct. 2) at Centennial Field. The team stays on the road for another non-conference matchup, as they take on Michigan State (Oct. 6) before heading back to Durham for a rematch of last year's semifinal round of the America East tournament against the University of Maryland Baltimore County (Oct. 9) at Bremner Field.

UNH continues its season with a string of three straight night tilts on the road against Stony Brook (Oct. 13), Hartford (Oct. 16) and Holy Cross (Oct. 20). New Hampshire heads back home for a pair of conference matchups against Boston University (Oct. 23) and Albany (Oct. 27) before rounding out the regular season with a pair of evening road contests against Binghamton (Oct. 30) and intrastate rival Dartmouth (Nov. 2).

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