Men's Soccer Kicks Off Preseason
25 players report as Oliver Weiss begins second year
August 13, 2003

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Virginia Tech men's soccer head coach Oliver Weiss is excited.

The coach, beginning his second year with the Hokies, believes the 2003 team is primed for a serious run at the BIG EAST title and a trip to their first-ever NCAA tournament. The team began preparations for their tough non-conference and league schedule Tuesday morning as 25 players reported for preseason practice, including 11 promising newcomers. The team officially began workouts today to prepare for the season opener at the Radford University Tournament on Aug. 29.

With a new field, a full year to recruit the players he needed, and a full staff to assist him, Weiss is eager for his team to hit the field.

"It's really exciting because we are starting the season the way we would like to. Last year was a little different, but this year everything has really come together," he said. "We can start the season off right embarking on our goals. We are raising our level of expectations."

Weiss admits the team's goals are easily attainable if everything falls into its place.

"We have our own place to play, our first set of recruits from a full cycle, and we feel like we can finish the season well. Winning the BIG EAST is an attainable goal and the NCAA is certainly a reachable goal as well."

The Hokies enters their third and final year in the BIG EAST Conference. Weiss is loading up with young players to better his team's 10-7-1 mark from last year. Virginia Tech's 5-5 conference mark, which gave the Hokies seventh place in the regular season standings, will have to improve if the team wants to make a step in the right direction.

Players, coaches, and fans will enjoy the new Hokie Soccer Stadium confines. The Hokies will officially unveil their new home on Sept. 5 against nationally-ranked Wake Forest. The new pitch is a 75x120-yard natural grass surface surrounded by an 800-seat grandstand with bench-back seats.

Style Of Play
Attack at all costs. That should be the motto for the team from day one. Playing exciting soccer and creating as many scoring opportunities as possible are the program's top objectives. Playing solid defense and limiting opponent's goals are certainly high priorities as well for the maroon and orange. One thing is certain this season; the Hokies will have depth all over the field. An enlarged player pool of talented youngsters and upperclassmen should give the Hokies more options and lineup combinations this fall.

With a stellar freshman season under his belt, Chase Harrison (Huntington, W.V.) has created a solid case to be this year's starting netminder. Newcomer Dustin Toth (Chesterfield, Va.) is expected to challenge for the top spot between the pipes. Second-year reserve keeper Jeff Graham will also vie for playing time.

Losing three starting defenders may give some coaches sleepless nights, but not Weiss. Harold Russell (Swarthmore, Pa.) returns as the lone starting defender in the center of the pack. Senior co-captain and last year's All-South Atlantic selection Lasse Mertins (Rotenburg, Germany) will join Russell as a center back instead of his usual defensive midfield role.

Both outside back positions are up for grabs. Sophomores Dustin Dyer (Ashland, Va.) and Peter Woody (Richmond, Va.) had productive spring seasons. Senior Greg Hermandorfer (Clifton, Va.) will challenge for playing time as well. The big question will be which 'young gun' will emerge as a contender for a starting job. Chad Steuck (Cary, N.C.), Brent Dillie (Pittsburgh, Pa.), TJ Thompson (Silver Spring, Md.), and Luke Mitchell (Midlothian, Va.) are all capable of contributing right away.

The midfield position battle should be fierce, as all positions are up for grabs. Junior Bailey Allman (Virginia Beach, Va.), and sophomores Greg Roach (Woodbridge, Va.) and Charlie Howe (Mechanicsville, Va.) are the upperclassmen who will have to fight off the barrage of rookies challenging for playing time. Freshman Ben Nason (Stafford, Va.), who joined the team in the spring, already has a four-month head start over the other newcomers. He may benefit from that in the attacking portion of the midfield. Eric Vickers (Fort Worth, Tex.), Bo Lawrence (Haymarket, Va.), Micah Woody (Midlothian, Va.), and Scott Spangler (Media, Pa.) can either play wide or central roles in the midfield.

The team returns players who scored 31 of 32 goals from last fall and all but one assist. Add to it the punch of new recruits and Hokie fans should be excited about the potential outcome after 90 minutes. Junior and All-South Atlantic selection Ken Jonmaire (East Aurora, N.Y.) led the team in scoring with eight goals and six assists for 22 points last year and vows to repeat his performance again this fall.

Another All-Region pick was sophomore Peer Rogge (Schleswig, Germany), who led the team in assists with seven. He will be asked to lead the charge up front along with senior co-captain Bobby O'Brien (Williamsburg, Va.). Those three players combined for 18 goals and 18 assists and are expected to better their output if the Hokies want to compete for postseason honors.

Newcomers Mohamed Said (Alexandria, Va.) and Keith Osborne (Manassas, Va.) will give the team extra depth when needed.