Aug. 19, 1997
1997 Men's Soccer Outlook
The Northwestern men's soccer team has reason to be optimistic because seven starters return along with one of the Wildcats stronger incoming classes.
"This year there is a good chemistry among the players, " said head coach Michael Kunert, who enters his 16th year with the Northwestern program. "We've worked really hard at becoming a team. I think we can only get a lot better." Kunert hopes the Wildcats maintain their momentum from the spring in which the 'Cats went undefeated except for one tie. Kunert called the 'Cats spring victory over Northern Illinois an "eye-opener" after beating them for the first time ever.
"We played really good soccer and I think it's making us more positive,"Kunert said.
Senior Andy McDermott, a two-time second-team All-Big Ten midfielder, returns as the 'Cats leader. McDermott finished second on the team with 10 points (three goals, four assists). He led the Wildcats in assists and started all 19 games.
"Andy will definitely be the person the team will look to," Kunert said. "He's done a good job of being our go-to guy, but we also want to take some of the pressure off of him."
The Wildcats will also count on Steve Shanks, who missed last season due to injury, to share the load. Shanks, a junior, previously ranked as the team's second leading scorer and started all 18 games his freshman year.
Kunert plans to step up his offensive unit with top freshman scorers David Mooradian, Trevor Nelson, Matt Williams and Drew Warnick. Mooradian was the 'Cats leading scorer with 12 points (five goals, two assists) and played in all 19 games.
"This spring, Mooradian has gotten stronger and bigger and has been playing better soccer," Kunert said.
Kunert also anticipates four incoming players, including Mooradian's younger brother, Dennis from Forest Hills North High School in Ada, Mich., to add more depth.
With the offensive unit complete, the defensive looks to fill its squad with top returnees senior Brian Frantz and sophomore midfielder Peden Young. Kunert also hopes to draw off the talent of newcomers juniors Andy Marwaha and Dan Merz, and senior Jonathan Church for backup.
"Through the center of our defense, we should be pretty strong," Kunert said. "We can play a variety of players if we need to."
The goal-keeping position will be strong with the return of sophomore Matt Keeler, who also suffered an injury in last year's pre-season. He will be backed by sophomore Jeff Dow.
Kunert said that this is the first time that the team has so much depth and flexibility and feels that it will give the team more confidence this season.
"Last year, we had no bench to step up," Kunert said. "This year we have the best recruiting class without question and pre-season will be very competitive."
The upcoming Wildcat home season features nine games, including Big Ten opponents Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Other area rivals such as De Paul, Loyola and North Park will visit the Lakefill. The 'Cats also face a rigorous road schedule against Penn State, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
Kunert remains confident that the 'Cats will not only expect victory but get it.
"Last year, I didn't think that we believed we could win," Kunert said. "If you look at our record from last year we lost several of our games by one goal, that has all got to change. We must know that we can win."