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SPORTS

Friday August 24, 2012

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THE WAIT IS OVER

Men’s soccer kicks off 2012 season against Hartford by doug walp sports writer

Seniors Uwem Etuk, left, and Shadow Sebele celebrate after a goal last season.

matt sunday/the daily athenaeum

The West Virginia men’s soccer team kicks off its 2012 season Saturday in the WVU Nike Classic against Hartford at 7 p.m. at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. S a t u rd a y ’s season opener will also mark the first game for the Mountaineers in their inaugural season in the Mid-American Conference. “We’re hoping to get a good turnout,” said senior midfielder Travis Pittman. “But most importantly, we’re looking to get a result. Practice has been great this week.” West Virginia received two preseason top 25 rankings leading up to its first game Saturday. TopDrawerSoccer.com has the Mountaineers ranked No. 18 in the nation, while the Soccer America preseason poll ranks West Virginia at No. 23. Some individual players for the Mountaineers have begun to accumulate their own preseason accolades as well. Senior center back Eric Shoenle was announced as a first-team preseason all-American for the College Sports Madness website and was also named to the 2012 Hermann Trophy preseason watch list – the highest individual honor in collegiate soccer. Sophomore forward Andy Bevin, the Mountaineers’ leading goal scorer in 2011, was named to the “Ten Sophomore Players to Watch” list at TopDrawerSoccer.com “It excites us, but we can’t settle,” Pittman said of the collective preseason expectations. “We’ve just got to work hard every day. If we’re not No. 1, it’s nothing. That’s our main goal – to be No. 1, and at the end of December, to win a national championship.” Th e Mou nt a i n e e r s played George Mason to a

0-0 tie at Manassas, Va., in their only exhibition of the fall, while Hartford scored a 2-0 win against Northeastern and tied Holy Cross 0-0 in their two fall non-team scrimmages. Pittman noted that the team’s attacking play has been a focus in practice leading up to their season opener, after failing to score in both the Blue-Gold game and the George Mason exhibition. But Pittman was also assertive that everyone will be ready to go Saturday. “I’m pretty confident,” Pittman said. “Our coaching staff is unbelievable with the way they break down game film. They do a great job telling us how to defend and explaining the opponent’s weaknesses. Hopefully we can get a couple goals this weekend.” The Mountaineers were 11-8-1 last season and were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Maryland. Hartford finished 8-9-4 overall and fell to Stony Brook in the 2011 America East tournament championship game. West Virginia head coach Marlon LeBlanc said the team’s emphasis leading up to the season opener with Hartford would be more on preparing to play their own up-tempo style than trying to focus too intently on the characteristics of any single opponent. “I know very little about Hartford,” LeBlanc said. “But I think that’s mostly what happens early on in the year. We’ll look at very, very short clips of Hartford. We try to focus more on ourselves than on the opponent. “I’ll do most of the focusing on my opponent myself, and then implement what we need to do in training in order to see it come out in the game without bogging them down with too much information.” dasports@mail.wvu.edu

Holgorsen’s new contract a sign of things to come at WVU michael carvelli sports editor

Earlier this month, West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck took a big step toward continuing to move WVU in the right direction when head football coach Dana Holgorsen signed a contract through 2017. It means that – at least in theory – the Mountaineers will be led by one of the brightest offensive minds in college football for the next six seasons. But Luck understands that just because he’s signed on the dotted line, it doesn’t mean he’s “locked in” for the duration of that contract by any means. “I don’t think you can ever really lock a coach up for a long-term contract because it’s such a classic free-market deal now,” Luck said. “He has a contract and he has a buyout if he leaves. If somebody really wants to hire him, somebody can hire him if he really wants to go. You could triple the buyout, and it wouldn’t change that fact. “It’s a great commitment to Dana from the University, as well as to the University from Dana. I can’t imagine that we could have anybody better in here leading our program, and I hope that will be the case for a long time.” It’s a major commitment for the school, indeed. The deal, which could be worth as much as $20.5 million by the time it’s up,

is the largest contract for any coach in WVU history. From Luck’s perspective, it had to happen. “He’ll be in high demand,” Luck said. “When I was talking to him about coming here, there were a lot of schools that had him on speed dial and were trying to get him to try to come and do the same thing he’s brought here. “He saw the value of what we have here, and it’s great that he did, but I do think he’ll be in high demand, especially if he can keep winning.” But it also had to happen when you look at the other contracts for coaches around the Big 12 Conference. Even with the new contract, Holgorsen ranks as just the sixth highest-paid coach in the league, ahead of Kansas head coach Charlie Weis, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, Texas Tech’s Tommy Tuberville and Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. It’s the first of many steps that WVU is going to have to take in order to keep up with their new conference. “It’s no secret that we’re playing in a new sandbox now,” Luck said. “Ultimately, we don’t want any of our coaches to be No. 10 out of 10 in terms of salary. That said, we know we aren’t going to be one of the top two or three either.” While it’s easy to figure out that they’re going to be spending a lot more money, realize that there will also be a lot more money available

see carvelli on PAGE 7

The DA 08-24-2012  

The August 24 edition of The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University's official student newspaper.

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