Freshman provide support for men’s soccer

By Jacob Onak

With regular season play over, it is clear that this year’s freshman class has given men’s soccer a big boost.

Eight freshmen have gotten time on the field his season, cumulating in 32 starts and 87 regular season appearances.

Coach Eric Luzzi said he is glad to have such guys in the squad.

“We knew when we recruited these guys that it was a very good group,” Luzzi said. “I think as far as guys performing in their first year they have ripped up their expectations, it’s hard for anybody to get playing time on the field, let alone freshmen.”

Defensively, Charlie Oliver has made his right back spot his own since the very first game of the season, appearing in 18 matches and starting in all but one of them. Towards the end of the season, defender Miles Stockman-Willis has seen time both at right back and at right midfield and has done well in the time he has gotten.

Oliver, whose lone goal was a huge strike, beating Northwestern in overtime, said he is proud to be a part of such a competitive group of guys.

Defender Kyle McDonald started and played in one game this season, but it was the game against Big Ten powerhouse Northwestern. McDonald did well up until he had to be subbed out due to cramps.

“Everyone in the freshman class has just put in such a great work ethic and everyone has really fought for positions and fought for time on the field,” Oliver said. “It’s been well-deserving for everyone and they are taking complete advantage of it. I thought everyone has played really well when they have gotten on the field.”

In the midfield, Gabe Christianson and Bertrand Gaschot have gotten time in the center alongside sophomore mainstay Jayson LeSeth. Both freshmen have done well, putting in tackles and giving the midfield a good boost of energy.

Christianson made 18 appearances, started three games, scored a goal and recorded an assist on the season. Gashot made 12 appearances, started in two games and had two assists in the regular season.

Toward the end of the season, Kyle Crichton did well in his seven appearances, including one start. In the midfield, though, he is fighting for time with junior Sean Totsch, who now is back to full health.

Offensively, Parker Thornton, made 16 appearances and four starts. He got off to a strong start in the beginning of the season, but it has been Matt Pritchard who has really stepped his game up, finding his role coming off the bench.

Pritchard has appeared in 14 games, starting in three of them. He has scored one goal and tallied three assists, leading all freshmen in points with five.

Luzzi said Pritchard has been one of the bright spots toward the end of the season.

“Pritchard, more recently in the last three or four weeks, [has] proven himself to be a very important piece of our attack, especially if you look at what college soccer is,” Luzzi said. “He works very hard and he presses and forces the other team to make mistakes and he’s just been good for us this year.”