2003 Men's Soccer Preview: Trojans Add More TalentAugust 25, 2003
ANDERSON, S.C. -- Coming off the most successful season in the program's history, the Anderson College men's soccer team is on the rise. Rob Miller led the Trojans to their first-ever Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference tournament bid in his first season at AC last fall. Miller is expecting another step forward from his team in 2003. "Last season was a pleasant surprise from start to finish," Miller said. "When I came in and played with them in the spring of 2002, I thought it was going to be a long year plus I got started late with my recruiting. I signed five quality players last year. I signed 12 this year. That's going to make a big difference." AC opens the 2003 season at Wingate Friday at 3 p.m. After winning just four CVAC matches in the previous four seasons, the Trojans won five CVAC matches in 2002 and made the league tournament. "We lost 2-0 at Queens, which was ranked 16th in the country, and we had two one-goal losses to Belmont Abbey," Miller said. "We were pretty respectable. We surprised a few teams in the CVAC. We were more organized, we had a better attitude, and we were more fit. I really feel like we could've done a little bit better." Miller set the tone in the preseason by running a tough preseason camp. The tactic paid off. "We started with 21 and 21 stayed," he said. "Not one single kid quit. I worked their tails off. There was no whining and no complaining. It was amazing. My message was straight forward - this is college ball. If you're not cut out for it, you need to go somewhere else. I know what it takes to win." Miller believes the key to building a winning program is to sell a vision to recruits. "You have to spend time communicating with people and sell your vision for the program," he said. "Players want to play for a coach who has a vision for success. That's what I've tried to sell. I feel driven to be successful. Other coaches here have done it in two or three years at AC. That's my goal. We have a lot of people here who want to be successful. I want to win and I want to win soon, but I don't make any promises." The strength of the 2003 team will be in the middle where forward Blake Wood (Jr., Chapin, S.C.) and sweeper Marcus Bradley (So., White Plains, Md.) both return. Wood led the team in scoring last season with 13 goals, while Bradley anchored a defense that allowed 67 fewer goals (38) than it did in 2001. "Blake will be bigger and stronger," Miller said. "I think he's got his best soccer in front of him. He's skillful and has all the tools, but he's still got some areas to work on. He needs to be stronger mentally. Marcus was all-conference last season, and he has the potential to be a big-time player. He's got a great build and great speed." Miller also is expecting a big season from Wrenel Roberts (So. Trinidad), one of the key role players for the Trojans in 2002. "I think Wrenel is going to be a pleasant surprise," he said. "He had all kinds of unfortunate things happen to him last year. He never got into the flow. I think you're going to see some big-time play out of him." Among the newcomers are two transfers from Charleston Southern - Jody Forno and Jack Ward and two South Carolina all-state selections - Trey Aull and Michael Zion
. Forno and Ward became available when Charleston Southern shut down its soccer program last spring. "Last year, the players wanted a better environment, so we pushed them a little bit," Miller said. "This year, we've added some talent to that driven mentality. It's young talent, which can be unpredictable." Forno, a defensive midfielder, was the captain at Charleston Southern, while Ward started seven matches in goal for the Buccaneers. "Jody has great leadership skills," Miller said. "He's just a quality player. He's very skillful, muscular, and quick. Jack started seven games and had a great game against N.C. State. He will battle Jason Brown, who redshirted last season, for the keeper spot." Miller is expecting immediate contributions from his two incoming all-state players. "Both will help us right away," he said. "Trey is left-footed and will play either striker or outside midfield. Michael is a hidden talent in the state. He came on the scene late in the recruiting season."