North Kehoe will be oddly silent these last couple of weeks, as athletes and aficionados alike take to their books and then set for a journey home after a tiring semester. But when the hot summer sun rises up behind the stands and the air is thick with the musty perfume of freshly cut grass, cleat-clad feet will yet again grace the turf, and the men’s and women’s soccer teams will once again take to the field to begin preseason preparations.This summer, eight new players will join the ranks of the women’s team, while five new names will grace the men’s roster.

The seven graduated seniors from the women’s Class of 2008 have left big shoes for the Class of 2012 to fill; by the looks of it, however, the freshman do seem capable of living up to the standards set by the class that saw the Hoyas reach their first NCAA tournament ever.

One of the brightest prospects of the recruited bunch is Greta Samuelsdottir, an “explosive” attacker, in the words of Head Coach Dave Nolan. Samuelsdottir has already earned a cap (an international appearance) for the Iceland international side. Blessed with technical prowess and an eye for the goal, Nolan believes her to be an asset to an already-strong offensive side. Paired up with the likes of Big East Rookie of the Year Ingrid Wells and returning senior Sara Jordan, the setup will make for a formidable attack.

Nolan also named California-native Samantha Baker as a versatile and threatening attacker, particularly strong on either flank. The coach commended her ability to “score goals and create goals.” With the attacking style of play set in place by Nolan, and one that earned the Hoyas such tremendous success last season, Baker’s versatility on the flank makes her a strong contender for the starting eleven.

Rounding up the rest of the recruits are Camille Trujillo, Kelly D’Ambrisi and Marissa Wing on attack; Gabrielle Miller and Larkin Nixon on defense; and Elizabeth Hanna in goal.

The women’s ’08-’09 team seems to be a particularly offense-oriented team, and Nolan admits that defense is an area that will require special attention.

While the women have some defensive uncertainties, the back four is the last of men’s Head Coach Brian Wiese’s worries; the Hoyas retain their entire defense from last year, including senior Richard Diaz, who will be returning to play for the Hoyas after prolonged injuries.

Nonetheless, Wiese gains the defensive services of Brandon Pfluger, who enrolled for the spring 2008 semester. He has already made his mark on the team, having practiced with them all spring semester and participated actively in the recent exhibition matches. Tall and tough, Pfluger will be an asset in the air during set pieces as well as a looming threat on the backline, likely to either form strong defensive partnerships with the likes of freshman Alex Verdi or sophomore Len Coleman, or give them a run for their money in the starting eleven.

“Pfluger’s doing his best to replace them,” Wiese joked when asked about possible competition for the position of center defender. “He broke Big Lenny’s nose in practice after they both went up for a header. Lenny went down and didn’t get back up. I’ve never seen a more broken nose than that.”

Offense is probably a bigger concern for Wiese, who graduated senior captain Mike Glaccum and saw his team go through a long and frustrating goal drought for a significant part of last season. Wiese can, however, rest easy knowing that he has swooped up one of the most sought-after strikers in the high school recruitment circuit – local talent Uche Onyeador. Wiese dubbed the 2007 Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year as “one of the best in the country.” Known for his goal-scoring instinct as well as his playmaking abilities, he will likely link up in the front with freshman forward Chandler Diggs to form a menacing attack partnership.

Wiese also brings in goalkeeper Erik Garciamendez and attacker David Madison, along with freshman Ozzie Martinez, a rising club player, giving more options on the bench to work with, and keeping the returning players on their toes.

So come fall 2008, when the creaking gates of North Kehoe are opened again and the rusty railings are once more draped with blue and gray Hoya Hooligan flags, the Class of 2012 will set foot on the field, ready to show that their feet are, indeed, big enough to fit the shoes left behind by the graduating Hoyas.

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