The Union University Bulldogs have high expectations for the 2003 season. The Bulldogs are returning seven starters and have added 16 freshman in hopes of bringing home a TranSouth Championship for the first time in school history. Union will face some tough competition in the 2003 season including NCAA schools Ouachita Baptist and Fisk University. The Bulldogs also play in the increasingly tough TranSouth Conference and NAIA Region XI. Six of the last eight NAIA National Champions have come from the NAIA’s Region XI, made up of the TranSouth and MidSouth conferences. The TranSouth is very competitive this season with any of six teams with a real shot at winning the league.
Union has two seniors this year and both have been starters at Union for four seasons. Midfielder, Kyle McDiarmid and forward Kekec Zivkovic have been solid players for Union. Zivkovic was fourth on Union’s squad last season with total points (19), third in assists (9), and fifth in goals (5).
The junior class has three members this season that also bring a great deal of experience to the field. Defender Daniel Lee and Redzi Stojiljkovic, along with midfielder Clovis Simas combined for 34 total points last season. Simas was third on the team in total points with 29 including nine goals and 11 assists.
Two sophomores are back from outstanding freshman seasons. Goalie Robert Stinson took over the goalkeeper position in 2002 as a freshman for the injured Jeff Lean. Stinson played 1134 minutes and posted a team high 1.67 goals against average. Christopher Anthony, a forward, played in 15 games as a freshman, most came after a break in his shoulder that sidelined him for two weeks. Anthony scored four goals and tallied on assists but his season highlight was the game winning goal in overtime of the NCCAA MidEast Region Championship game.
Coach White calls the 2003 recruiting class the best in the five year history of Union soccer, and why not with 16 freshmen joining the team in 2003. Many of these players are extremely talented and will have their chance to contribute immediately. Union has spent the off-season with the goal of improving a once dominate back field. Freshman Mark Forrest, Marko Pavlovic, Drew Perry, and Christopher Prentice will see minutes and provide depth and stability to Union’s defense. Freshman goalie Brian Hamilton will battle Stinson for playing time and throw in third string goalie Marcus Boehler and you have what Coach White calls his deepest and most talented goalie group in history. Duncan Nicol, Fabio Buargue, Alexandre Pereira, and Gareth Munro will give Union depth on the offensive side of the ball. Ross Wilson, Giuliano Forcinetti, Stephen Goodin, Pablo Paredes, Jared Myracle, and Humberto Sanchez will also give depth to a very talented 2003 Union Bulldog soccer squad.
Union’s 2003 team goes 16 players deep and Coach White believes that this team is talented enough that they don’t loose anything when he goes to his bench. The challenge for Coach White and the rest of the Union coaching staff is to find a way to mesh the seven returning players and 16 freshmen into a team. This looks to be an excited year for the Bulldogs in which they have all the pieces in place to make a run at the NAIA postseason.