After back-to-back regular season first place Colonial Athletic Association finishes in 2012 and 2013, the Drexel University men’s soccer team experienced two consecutive seasons of subpar play.
In 2014, the Dragons finished second to last in the CAA, posting a 1-6-1 record in conference play and a 5-10-3 record overall.
Drexel’s struggles continued into 2015 when the team finished the season last in the CAA with a 2-6-0 conference record and a 3-15-1 overall clip.
Despite the team’s performance in recent years, the Dragons have high hopes for 2016. Drexel only lost three players, Francisco Palma, Nick Bolton and Bayley Winkel, this past spring.
Palma was a key fixture in the Dragon’s offense last season. He led the team in shot attempts and was second on the team in points.
With Palma gone, junior midfielder Colin McGlynn will likely have more responsibility on the offensive side of the ball this year for Drexel. As a sophomore last season, McGlynn started just nine games, but he led the Dragons with five goals and a 0.250 shot percentage. He also had the highest shot-on-goal percentage, 0.500, of any Drexel player who attempted at least 10 shots.
McGlynn will share time on the field with junior Erik Alexandersson, who, in just two seasons with the Dragons, has a decorated resume. Alexandersson was named to the CAA All-Rookie team after his freshman year in 2014 and received a Third Team All-CAA selection after his sophomore year in 2015. He also was awarded a spot on the 2016 preseason All-CAA team and will be transitioning from midfielder to outside back this season.
Senior goalkeeper Tyler Afflerbach will return to action with an opportunity to move up in the ranks of Drexel’s all-time saves leaders. Afflerbach enters 2016 with 179 career saves, which is the ninth most in Drexel soccer history. If Afflerbach is able to record 32 saves this season, he will move ahead of Dan Mckendry and Cory Robertson and take sole possession of seventh place in the Dragon’s record book.
It is possible for Afflerbach to move up further on the list, but he would need to match his single-season career high of 66 saves just to tie Mike Haberman’s sixth place total of 245 saves. Last season, Afflerbach shared time in goal with sophomore keeper Jacob Jordan. Jordan outplayed Afflerbach in 2015 by posting more saves, 52 to 48, and a higher save percentage, 0.754 to 0.696, despite playing fewer games, 9 to 10. However, Afflerbach’s career credentials would indicate that 2015 was an off year for him, and it is likely that the senior keeper will begin the 2016 season as the Dragon’s starter.
While the Dragon’s have a large number of returning players from last season, they also have solid incoming group of seven new face. This group will include centerback Eden Ben Hemo, goalkeeper Cameron Sanders, midfielder Robert Smith, forward Carlos Cuevas, center back Daniel Klemm, and outside backs Martin Farias, Warne Lewis and Charles “Strick” Newsom.
“They have addressed some of the immediate needs of our team and we are confident in the character and ethics of each recruit. They will be strong additions to our young team, and I look forward to participating in their development over the coming years,” head coach Doug Hess said July 22.
Hemo has a chance to make an immediate impact for the Dragons. While he is academically a freshman, he served two years in the Israeli Navy before arriving on campus at Drexel. He offers a combination of experience, high defensive intellect, and a strong leadership trait, according to Hess.
Carlos Cuervas, a 5’8 forward from Orlando, Florida, is capable of providing an offensive spark for Drexel during his freshman year.
“We have seen him impact games by attacking through both the middle of the field and in wide open spaces. Carlos is an exciting player to watch in the final third and will add a good complement to our attack,” Coach Hess said.
Drexel’s season will kick into gear Friday, Aug. 26 when the team travels to New York to take on St. John’s University. The Dragons will have their first home game Tuesday, Sept. 9 when they take on the University of Rhode Island Rams 7 p.m. at Vidas Field. All of Drexel’s home games will be played at Vidas this season.