Published: February 21, 2012
Spring soccer is right around the corner in North Carolina, and without losing a player from last fall, Wake Forest is primed and ready for a big year.
Along with not losing a single player to graduation, transfer, or to the pro ranks, coach Jay Vidovich has also assembled a high quality recruiting class, ranked No. 5 in the country.
And with a challenging spring schedule beginning on March 10, there’s plenty to be optimistic about.
“I’m very excited, because we haven’t lost anybody,” he told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “There’s nobody leaving, and we’re bringing in seven players, quite a few that we think can play major role in our team.”
Among those joining the Demon Deacons ranks in the fall are midfielder/defender Jalen Robinson (D.C. United Academy), goalkeeper Andrew Harris (Baltimore Bays) and forward Michael Gamble (Baltimore Bays).
Vidovich expects the influx of talent to improve the team across the board as it forces everyone – even experienced players – to raise their game.
“I think our team will improve dramatically not just because of the talent but that will be on the field, but because of the competition, the quality of training will improve and people will grow faster that way,” Vidovich said.
The leaders from last fall – including leading scorer Luca Gimenez, forward Andy Lubahn and exciting young talent Sean Okoli, to name a few – will have plenty to say about playing time.
And other contributors, such as Ben Newnam, Teddy Mullin, Kovi Konowiecki, Anthony Arena and Sean Randolph will be pushed to try and make an even bigger impression in the coming year.
Okoli in particular, a graduate of Seattle Sounders Academy, who also received a call up to the US U20 camp this week in Florida, is someone who Vidovich expects to continue improving.
“It took a while for Sean to get going and make the adjustment to playing at this level,” he said. “He’s committed, an ambitious guy, had a tremendous run at the end of the year. He’s always a dangerous threat, and I think he’s growing that way right now.”
If Okoli continues to emerge up front, and with rising seniors like Danny Wenzel, Michael Lisch and Lubahn ready to lead, Wake appears to have the deadly combination of talent and experience that will almost certainly earn a mention among the group of national title contenders come the fall.
However, before they can think ahead about returning to the prestigious heights of past seasons later in the year, an extremely challenging spring schedule awaits.
“To be honest with you I’m very excited about all of [the spring games] for different reasons,” Vidovich said. “We start off the calendar with Northwestern coming down here, they’re always a strong team, a difficult team, a tournament team.”
After Northwestern, Wake visits the rising program of Virginia Commonwealth, before taking on Coastal Carolina, West Virginia, and closing out the spring by taking on the 2011 National Champions North Carolina.
When all is said and done, Vidovich is hoping for the team to continue its growth towards a winning mentality.
“It’s a part of the growth process in terms of the ability to read the game and execute on that,” he said. “To grow a winning mentality of how to play to win.”
Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an email.