Ready to turn the cor­ner

CSM men’s soc­cer has new head coach, plenty of re­turn­ers and new faces

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

As the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land men’s soc­cer team pre­pares for a scrim­mage this Satur­day against Goucher and then its sea­son opener against Anne Arun­del Com­mu­nity Col­lege on Thurs­day, a first-year head coach and his three team cap­tains are ap­proach­ing the slate with con­sid­er­able op­ti­mism.

On Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon be­fore an evening prac­tice, CSM head coach Tom Pollert and sopho­more cap­tains Will Parr, Je­hoshua Otuya and Di­lan Bing­ham spoke about the up­com­ing sea­son in an up­beat tone. Although all three ar­rived at CSM from three dif­fer­ent high schools in three dif­fer­ent coun­ties, they have formed a solid bond and ad­mit the team’s in­com­ing fresh­men have quickly helped form a co­he­sive unit.

“Right from the first prac­tice, I think we had a lot more chem­istry,” said Parr, a mid­fielder and Hunt­ing­town High School grad­u­ate from Hunt­ing­town who plans to at­tend the Univer­sity of Mary­land next year. “I think we’re a lot closer than we were last sea­son. We do a lot of things to­gether out­side of

soc­cer. It’s def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent feel­ing this year.”

Otuya, a St. Mary’s Ryken High School grad­u­ate from Hol­ly­wood and one of the team’s two re­turn­ing for­wards along with La Plata High School alum Zach Gra­gan from Bel Al­ton, sided with Parr in re­la­tion to the team’s im­proved chem­istry this fall. Otuya ad­mits the team has set high goals in its first sea­son un­der Pollert and he down­played any per­sonal ex­pec­ta­tions.

“For me, it’s all about help­ing this team win as many games as pos­si­ble,” Otuya said. “The goals are to get as far as we can in the Re­gion XX tour­na­ment. It’s about work­ing to­gether as a team. We’re a lot closer this year than we were last year. We only have five re­turn­ing play­ers, but we’ve all come to­gether this year, in­clud­ing the new play­ers.”

Bing­ham, a Thomas Stone High School grad­u­ate from Wal­dorf, could sense from the first week of prac­tices that the re­turn­ing play­ers and in­com­ing fresh­men were on the same page im­me­di­ately. While the 2015 Hawks may have been un­able to form a co­he­sive bond last fall, this year’s squad may have al­ready meshed.

“It’s def­i­nitely a lot dif­fer­ent and a lot bet­ter than last year,” Bing­ham said. “We have one com­plete team this year. For me, as a de­fense­man, the goal is al­ways to help my team post a clean sheet [shutout]. I want to do any­thing I can to help my goalie and pre­vent the other team from scor­ing. We have more chem­istry this sea­son and I think it will re­sult in more wins.”

Pollert in­sisted part of the short term goals of get­ting the play­ers to mesh to­gether in prac­tices has al­ready been es­tab­lished and now he ad­mits the long term goal is sim­ply to take the Hawks to a higher level this fall.

“The goal for any coach and any team this time of year is to win the re­gion cham­pi­onship and make it to the NJCAA tour­na­ment,” Pollert said. “We only have five re­turn­ing play­ers and 16 new play­ers, but right away this team has come to­gether. I think they all have the same goals in mind this year. These three cap­tains have done an ex­cel­lent job pro­vid­ing the lead­er­ship that the younger play­ers can look up to.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF COL­LEGE OF SOUTH­ERN MARY­LAND

Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land sopho­more mid­fielder Will Parr, a Hunt­ing­town High School grad­u­ate, is one of only five re­turn­ing play­ers for the Hawks men’s soc­cer team this fall.

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