The men’s soccer program at TFC will take the field this season with high expectations after last season’s banner winning campaign. As South Region champions, TFC finished the season ranked seventh in the nation, the Eagles highest ranking since 2007. The Eagles will return 8 starters and 17 varsity lettermen. With the addition of 9 athletic newcomers, TFC will be aiming for a return trip to the NCCAA national tournament.
Comprising of All-American Noah Smith and four others in their final year of eligibility, the graduating class of 2014 holds a special place in Coach Worsley’s heart. “My first day as head coach at TFC was their first day as freshman,” Coach Worsley reminisced. “And it has been a thrill to be with this group from day one. I have loved watching them grow into the play makers and leaders that they are today.”
Joining Smith (Toccoa, GA) in his last season with TFC are center back Andy Hoeweler (Waynesville, OH), goal keeper Jon Wright (Koutiala, Mali), midfielder Erik Garrigo (Barcelona, Spain), and forward Mike Howell (Dakar, Sengal). In addition to the seniors, redshirt junior and team captain Josh Gailer (Toccoa, GA) returns for his fourth year in the program. In 2012, Gailer was named second team All-Region as a midfielder. Forward Nathan Dority (Jayapura, Indonesia), midfielders Dustin Martin (Toccoa, GA) and Lenny Kroneman (Sentani, Indonesia), and defender Jared Gordon (Brooklyn, NY) are also in their junior campaigns.
Battling Jon Wright in goal will be Toccoa native Elijah Smith. As a sophomore in 2012, Elijah joined his brother Noah on the first team All-Region award list while earning four shutouts and producing 170 saves. In doing so, Smith became TFC’s first goal keeper since Travis Julian in 2008 to earn such honors.
Returning for their second season as Eagles are midfielders Ben Maxey (Wamena, Indonesia), Stephen Lee (Toccoa, GA), and Dalton Cofer (Eatonton, GA). Defenders Sully Adams (Sentani, Indonesia) and Josh Jordon (Sentani, Indonesia) and forward Chris Chestnut (Orlando, FL) likewise return for their sophomore years.
The value of returning a large quantity of players from last year is a luxury that has not escaped Coach Worsley. “I am excited about the number of returning starters from last year after losing just three contributors. With so much valuable game experience, the returning guys are looking to build on last season’s success. It has also been great to watch the veterans welcome the new players to the team with open arms.”
Blending with the veterans will be Coach Worsley’s deepest and most talented recruiting class to date. “It has been exciting to see immediate contributions from the new guys in practice. They are buying into our system and are gelling with the team nicely,” said Worsley.
Veterans High School (Warner Robins, GA) teammates Michael Bailey and Joseph Faletto will press the incumbent starters in the midfield for immediate playing time. Lee Tebbens (Powder Springs, GA) is a quick marking back who will provide crucial minutes off the bench. Sam Jury (Tyrone, GA) enrolled at TFC in the spring semester and will also look for minutes on the back line. Phillip Volstad (Moscow, Russia) is a second generation TFC Eagle and will be counted on for depth. Isaiah Johnson (Sentani, Indonesia) is a tall forward who will look to use his height and talents in the air to contest for playing time up top. In addition to the six man recruiting class, the program welcomes walk-ons Lucas Wisehart (Gibsonburg, OH), David Kalmbacher (Sentani, Indonesia), and Daniel Berry (Vientiane, Laos) to the team.
The Eagles will kick off the regular season with a tough test at NAIA powerhouse Bryan College on August 26. The TFC Classic on August 30 and 31 will be TFC’s first home games of the year as they square off against Hillsdale College and Crown College, respectively. A notable change to this year’s scheduling is the Homecoming match that has previously been played on Saturday afternoon will now be played on Friday, October 11 at 7:00 PM. The Eagles will host rivals Clearwater Christian College as the homecoming visitors. With eyes on a return trip to nationals and an experienced corps of players, the 2013 season should be a memorable one for the Eagles.