A return postseason trip within reach for men's soccer
ORANGE, Calif. – With 11 players back who started at least six games on last season's NCAA playoff team, the Chapman University men's soccer team has the players in place to make a return trip to the postseason, and advance. Chapman (11-5-3) has made postseason appearances in two of the last three years, but on both occasions, has been eliminated in the first round.
Several of Chapman's key returners are upperclassmen who now have two postseason appearances under their belt and the experience to help the team make the playoffs and advance. Among Chapman's returners is a pair of NSCAA All-Region performers in senior F Mauricio Alfonso and junior D Andy Stevenson. Alfonso, a first team selection in 2011, led the Panthers in goals (12), assists (6) and points (30) while Stevenson anchored a defense that allowed opponents just 1.30 goals per game.
Joining Alfonso as a scoring threat is junior F Nick Echeverry (4 goals, 3 assists), junior M Brent Hellesen (2 goals, 3 assists) and senior F Quinn Murray (3 goals). Echeverry was an All-Region selection in 2010 and finished second on the team in goals, assists and points last season despite an injury-shortened year.
Key to the Panthers' success once again this year will be its defense, particularly with a pair of freshmen in Nick Berardi and Dean Meltz seeing time in goal this season. Seven of Chapman's 11 wins in 2011 were shutouts and with three defensive starters back, the defense is again a strength. Returners joining Stevenson on defense are junior D Dean Navarro and sophomore D Mikey Stoddard.
Finally there's the matter of Chapman playing its inaugural season in the SCIAC, where it will duke it out with No. 9 Redlands, Claremont and other SCIAC teams for a trip to the postseason. Chapman will play its first-ever SCIAC match at home against Whittier on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Wilson Field at 4:00 p.m.
Before conference season begins, Chapman hosts games against Hope International and Whitman with Chapman's season-opener Friday, Aug. 31 at Wilson Field at 5:15 p.m. against Hope International. With a pair of wins, head coach Eddie Carrillo will have 150 career victories.