Soccer season disappoints

Tim Laurent, Sports Writer

On Nov. 2, the Patriot men traveled to Montevallo, Ala. for what would end up being their final game of the soccer season, as they took on the #24 ranked Montevallo Falcons. FMU would come up short, losing 2-0 in their first game of the Peach Belt Conference tournament.

The loss eliminated the Patriots, and brought them to a final season record of 7-10-1, with a 3-5 conference record.

“Overall the season was disappointing,” Head Coach Kevin Varnado said.

Since 2008, the team’s winning percentage declined year-by-year. The Patriots won four fewer games than they did a year ago, when they finished 11-5-3, and seven fewer games than they did in 2008, when they finished 14-5-3. The Patriot’s seven wins would keep them from gaining their eleventh double-digit win season.

“I thought we improved over the course of the season, but looking back, the first few games presented us with a hurdle we never truly overcame,” Varnado said.

The hurdle Coach Varnado referenced would be the Patriots’ 0-5-1 start in their first six games. The Patriots would improve, though, as they ended up going 7-5 in their last twelve games. That improvement included a three-game winning streak.

“I still feel that we received some good performances this season from a few of our newcomers,” Varnado said.

The head coach pointed to freshman forward Alex Blandin and Freshman midfielder Jeran Nanthakumar as two of those standout newcomers.

Alex Blandin led the team in goals with five, and Nanthakumar started 17 of the 18 games and scored one goal. Blandin was followed closely in goals scored by senior midfielder Chris Foltanski, who recorded four goals. Foltanski lead the team in assists with six, and was followed by freshman midfielder Shane McConlogue, who had three of his own.

Blandin’s solid play would earn him second-team All-Conference honors.

Not to be overlooked is senior goalkeeper Clark Richeson. Richeson made 95 saves in the Patriots 18 games, and stopped 78 percent of the shots attempted by opponents.

Another standout Patriot for the ’10 season was senior defender Ivan Juric. Juric received the honor of being placed on the PBC Academic soccer team. To be eligible for this reward, a student athlete must participate in at least half of his team’s events and be either a starter or significant contributor, achieve a 3.30 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale), and have completed one full academic year at his current institution.

Juric achieved eligibility by playing in 17 games and maintaining a 3.38 gpa as a history major. He has twice been named to the PBC Presidential Honor Roll and the FMU Swamp Fox Athletic-Academic Honor Roll. As part of the team’s community service project, he has worked with students at Greenwood Elementary School.

The Patriot squad ended the season fifth in the Peach Belt Conference, and their head coach has high hopes for their next campaign.

“The core of the team is intact and the future still remains bright,” Varnado said.