Greene County News
FAIRBORN — There are nine seniors on the Wright State men’s soccer roster, six of whom started as freshmen. They have taken part in memorable victories, helped build a winning tradition, and elevated the program’s regional and national visibility.
In fact, there is only one significant accomplishment that has eluded these nine Raiders — a championship.
“I thought the 2015 season was great … other than not finishing it off,” senior defender Jake Stovall said. “When I think about my career and I think about this season, a championship is the only thing I see.”
The Raiders, who open the season Friday, Aug. 26 at Portland, have lost to Oakland in the Horizon League finals each of the last two years.
“I loved last year’s team, but I felt like we left with something missing,” Wright State coach Bryan Davis said. “We will stay focused on the process. But, frankly, we’re tired of talking about the things we want to do. It’s time to complete our goals.”
Oakland and Wright State tied for first place in preseason voting of the league’s coaches.
“It’s nice, but we’ll try not to pay too much attention to it,” Stovall said.
Eleven of the 15 players who recorded a goal or an assist for the Raiders (12-8-1) return, including first team All-Horizon League forwards Peguy Ngatcha and Eric Lynch.
Ngatcha scored a team-high seven goals for the second consecutive year and will be seeking a third consecutive all-league selection. Lynch contributed five goals and three assists in 2015, a year after his 13 assists led the nation and earned him Horizon League Player of the Year honors. Lynch’s 24 career assists are tied for second in school history.
“Peguy has physical gifts very few players have,” Davis said. “Eric does everything for his team. His numbers are terrific, but he cares more about winning than anything else.”
Senior midfielder Sam DeRoy tied for second on the team with three assists and was picked second team All-Horizon League. Jackson Dietrich led the Raiders with seven assists and was named the league’s Freshman of the Year.
An experienced midfield includes DeRoy and senior Zach Zwiesler, juniors AJ Paterson and Jeff Rhodes, and sophomores Dietrich and Eric Hutton, who played in all 21 games and joined Dietrich on the league’s All-Freshman Team. The defense returns several seasoned veterans, including seniors Stovall and Kaique Fernandes and junior Jalim Bayo.
The only position where the Raiders are lacking experience is in goal. Will Lukowski played in one game as the 2015 backup. Senior Ryan Pignatiello played in one game in 2014. New keepers include Joel Sundell from Sweden and fellow freshman Alex Williams.
Solidifying a defense that would sometimes, in Davis’ words, “bleed goals” last year will be one priority this season. Achieving consistency will be another.
“We have nine seniors and this is their team,” Davis said. “They will need to take care of business. They will need to hold their teammates accountable. We’ve taken steps. But this next step is the most challenging of all.”