PDT Sports Editor
A year after finishing 9-9-1 and in the middle of the pack in 2011, the Shawnee State men’s soccer program will be looking to move upward in the Mid-South Conference 2012.
The 2011 overall record and a 4-3 record in conference was good enough to place the Bears fourth in the standings come the end of the season.
The team, led by longtime coach Ron Goodson, will be replacing some stalwarts from last season including goalkeeper Kevin Fischer. Fischer was an All-Conference First Team performer a year ago and compiled 111 saves with a .787 save percentage.
Options to replace Fischer include senior Jordan Cross and freshmen T.J. Cappel and Cory Wright.
Also gone is Lenier Crawford, who was All-Conference Honorable Mention defender a season ago and his partners on defense Cody Bond and Dale Vinson.
The lack of experience in the back end and the competitiveness of the teams in the conference have given way to middling expectations for the Bears. The MSC preseason coaches poll has SSU ranked sixth while defending NAIA National Champion Lindsey Wilson College was the unanimous choice as No. 1.
The University of Rio Grande was selected second, University of the Cumberlands third, Campbellsville University fourth and Cumberland University fifth.
It could be a chance for SSU to sneak up on conference foes as the Bears return All-Conference Honorable Mention players Chad Johnston and Joseph Webster.
Johnston, a forward, led the Bears in goals in 2011 with 11 and also added nine assists. Webster, a midfielder was right behind Johnston with 10 goals and also notched six assists.
Off the field, the Bears are one of the more respected team’s in the conference and the proof is in the hardware as Goodson recently won the MSC Conference Coach of Character Award.
As the name would imply, the award is given to NAIA coaches that have embraced the values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
SSU athletic director Jeff Hamilton praised Goodson for his efforts in the community in a statement released by the school.
“Ron has been on the forefront of Champions of Character for Shawnee State University. It is wonderful that he has received this distinguished award from the Mid-South Conference,” Hamilton said. “It speaks volumes that he has been able to get his message about the Champions of Character core values across to his players and see the progress his teams have made. I know that he has worked very hard to create a great soccer atmosphere within his program that produces high quality student-athletes who are making fantastic choices on and off the field.”
In the 2011 season SSU players helped raise money for the United Way and spoke to students of local elementary schools.
While the Bears have paid it forward off the field, they look to collect on the field this fall. Shawnee State will open its season Aug. 27 when it hosts NAIA champion Lindsey Wilson.
Information from Shawnee State Sports Information contributed to this report.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2012 Men’s Soccer Schedule
27 4:00 PM vs. Lindsey Wilson
29 4:00 PM vs. Mount Vernon Nazarene College
1 6:30 PM @ University of Saint Francis Fort Wayne, Ind.
2 2:00 PM vs. Indiana Institute of Technology Fort Wayne, Ind.
@ University of Saint Francis
8 3:00 PM vs. Bluffton College
9 2:00 PM @ Otterbein University Westerville, Ohio
15 4:00 PM @ Georgetown College Georgetown, Ky.
22 4:00 PM @ St. Catharine College St. Catharine, Ky.
23 1:00 PM vs. Anderson University
26 4:00 PM vs. University of Northwestern Ohio
3 4:00 PM vs. University of Pikeville
9 4:00 PM vs. University of Rio Grande
13 8:00 PM @ Campbellsville University Campbellsville, Ky.
17 4:00 PM vs. University of the Cumberlands
20 3:00 PM @ Bluefield College Bluefield, Va.
23 5:00 PM @ Kentucky Christian University Grayson, Ky.
27 3:00 PM @ Cumberland Univ. Lebanon, Tenn.