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August 11, 2009

2009 Season - Seniors will lead the way in 2009

When third year head coach Brenton Joseph talks about his team’s prospects heading into the 2009 season he points to one very big factor. His Augustana roster will feature 10 seniors and that statistic is not lost on Joseph.

“We have plenty of seniors and we will count on them to provide leadership,” said Joseph who has compiled a record of 16-16-5 in his previous two seasons at the Vikings helm. “I think there is plenty of motivation for that group to have a good year and leave college on a high note.”

Augustana was 6-9-2 in 2008 after finishing 8-7-3 in Joseph’s first year in 2007. A total of eight starters return from a year ago, including first team all-conference performer Scott Wallner (Buffalo Grove HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) at forward.

“The key to having a successful season will be to change the outcome of close games,” said Joseph, who watched last year as his team lost six games that were decided by a single goal. “We need to capitalize on our chances and that is where I think our leadership will come in.”

One of those 10 seniors, Mike Dolan (Libertyville HS, Libertyville, Ill.) will handle the goalkeeping duties once again. Dolan saw action in 17 games and logged 1,487 minutes. He allowed 25 goals and had a 1.51 goals-against-average. Freshman Brian Szkarlat (Morgan Park Academy, Chicago, Ill.) will be the backup.

The defense in front of Dolan will be solid with seniors Eric Love (Buffalo Grove HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) and Alex Rathe (Lake Zurich HS, Deer Park, Ill.) leading the way. Both have been regulars for most of their careers. Junior Patrick Clore (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.) and sophomores Thomas Blakeney (Marian Central Catholic HS, Algonquin, Ill.), Brennan Doherty (Marian Central Catholic HS, McHenry, Ill.) and Brett Bleecher (Marist HS, Oak Lawn, Ill.) all made good progress last year. Transfer sophomores Cory DeGrave (Fremd HS, Palatine, Ill.) and Conner Martinez (United Township HS, East Moline, Ill.) should both be in the mix. Junior Tim Marlega (Conant HS, Elk Grove, Ill.) is coming off an injury and freshman Jason Beckus (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.) has good credentials.

In the midfield seniors Andrew Stanley (Harlem HS, Roscoe, Ill.) and Nick Galounis (Lincoln-Way Central HS, New Lenox, Ill.) will hook up with junior Sean O’Malley (University HS, Bloomington, Ill.) and sophomore Marc Nethercote (Grayslake HS, Grayslake, Ill.). Junior Kyle Pankow (Ankeny HS, Ankeny, Iowa) is coming back to the Vikings after missing the 2008 season and sophomore Sean Fidlow (Carmel Catholic HS, Gurnee, Ill.) is a transfer. Senior John Linden (Fremd HS, Libertyville, Ill.) will get a shot in the midfield and freshman Kevin Wyrostek (Naperville North HS, Naperville, Ill.) will get a long look.

Wallner, who played both in the midfield and at forward, was the leading scorer on the team a year ago with five goals and two assists for 12 total points. He will probably be at forward along with fellow seniors Jonathan Woo (Maine South HS, Park Ridge, Ill.), Dave Shrigley (Wheaton Warrenville South HS, Wheaton, Ill.) and Pheng Xiong (Sheboygan North HS, Sheboygan, Wis.). Shrigley scored two goals and had two assists in 2008. Sophomore Demarcus Benion (Lutheran North HS, St. Louis, Missouri) and freshman Martin Skantze (Chesterton, Indiana HS, Oslo, Norway) will lend quality depth.

“We are anxious to get going,” said Joseph. “We are optimistic. One thing that will be a key will be to see how we react to adversity. I like the work ethic and attitude of this team.”