Young Cats look to make their mark

Following a season in which they turned some heads and upset some powerful opponents in the process, the young 2009 Catamount menas soccer team is ready to truly make its mark both on the America East and nationally.

After losing 11 athletes from last season’s team, head coach Jesse Cormier was in for a pleasant surprise when the America East conference picked Vermont third in its preseason poll.

“I was surprised we were that high after losing eight seniors,” Cormier said.

“There are a lot of good teams with experienced players in the league.”

However, even with such a humble nature regarding his team thus far in the season, Cormier knows the potential that lies within this squad considering the ability and leadership skills of the veteran players mixed with the sheer energy of some of the up-and-comers.

“When you have youth and inexperience, the young guys usually are playing beyond themselves and are naïve to the pressure,” Cormier said.

He was also quick to admit that such naiveté can backfire in certain cases. 

“Sometimes they do get overwhelmed — it can be a see-saw type effect,” Cormier said.

“We’re just going to try to develop consistency.”

As for the “young guys” Cormier spoke of, he sees a long list of potential contributors who could grab headlines throughout the season.

“We believe redshirt freshman Dwayne Dove has worked his way into the system — he seems ready to go and have an influence on the team this season,” Cormier said.

“Jordan Smith in the midfield could have influence as well. Then up front, we have D.J. Edler, Juan Peralta and Alassane Kane fighting for playing time, while Seth Rebeor and Sean Sweeney will both compete for playing time in the back.”         

Most importantly for Vermont, though, will be how effectively these young players are shown the ropes by some of the elder Cats. Cormier sees a pair of players who have what it takes to lead the entire team.

“Tommy Critz in goal has been waiting under the wings of Roger Scully and, now that Roger has graduated, Tommy will be ready, and can be a leader for us too,” Cormier said.

“I’ve seen him already have a breakout season in terms of leadership and a voice, and you can say the same about T.J. Gore.”

While Critz is busy protecting the net, Gore will most likely lead by example on the pitch.

After spending much of his junior year as a two-way midfielder, the senior forward has been recognized by the conference each year, being named to the all-conference first team in 2006 and the all-conference second team the past two seasons.

Cormier knows his stars will have to play well game in and game out with such a competitive conference, though.

“In conference, we see every game as being a challenge — we have a ton of respect for everyone, but mainly Boston, who won the America East last year,” Cormier said.

“Binghamton will always be good and New Hampshire is a rival, although we’re just really trying to get ready for Siena for now,” Cormier said.

As for non-conference opponents, Cormier sees a pair of teams who will truly put Vermont to the test. 

“Out of conference, I find UMass and Portland as some of the best teams in the country, though every game will be a challenge.”

All things considered, Cormier is approaching the season with a modest yet hopeful outlook for his young squad.

“Our goal is to win the conference, but we are realistic too,” Cormier said.

“We want to learn and grow and become a team, but we will be humble in our approach throughout the season.”