#15 Wake Forest Men's Soccer 2012 Preview

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
Wake Forest Men's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
Wake Forest Team Page


Wake Forest got off to a slow start during the 2011 campaign and their finish was not much better. The Demon Deacons did beat South Carolina in penalties in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, but lost at James Madison in the second round. But that was a young team and this has been a young program for a couple of years now. Time is the only thing that can cure youth and Wake Forest’s time has come. Coach Jay Vidovich keeps restocking with young talent, but that talent does not necessarily have to make a huge impact anymore. But this class is very good, so expect an impact to be made regardless.

2011 Record: 8-8-5, 4-3-1
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jay Vidovich

Returning everybody and adding even more talent with a great recruiting class is a good place to start, and the offense can be very explosive this year. In 2011 there were moments of complacency, but leaders are ready to emerge. Andy Lubahn had a slightly disappointing junior campaign compared to his first two years in Winston-Salem, but still netted four goals and added six assists. Versatile junior Luca Gimenez led the Demon Deacons with six goals and makes the most of his opportunities. Sean Okoli is a true striker and had a very promising freshman season. If he keeps improving, Okoli could be a major force for Wake Forest and score a lot more than four goals. Yet, incoming freshman Michael Gamble may have something to say about who is the most prolific underclassmen on this team. Senior Ben Newnam is a defensive midfielder who comes up into the attack more than most. He scored three goals and tallied four assists in 2011. Teddy Mullin and Ross Tomaselli are the best pure passers in the midfield and those two can make the final pass up to the strikers. The man who feeds players like Mullin and Tomaselli is Jared Watts. The 6-1 junior will not tally a bunch of assists or take many shots, but he is the key piece to the Wake Forest team. His defensive ability sparks counterattacks and the defense must feel much better with Watts stationed in front of them.

But if Wake Forest wants to make significant strides, the defense has to improve. The ACC is always tough and this is a team that will give up goals, but at least giving the offense a chance to win some games is vital. With everybody back and the addition of one of the best freshman in the nation, Jalen Robinson, there is plenty of hope that the defense will be much, much better. With Anthony Arena and Danny Wenzel, the senior leaders in the back, and Tolani Ibikunle, Sam Fink and Andrew Malkiewicz also in the mix, Coach Vidovich has plenty of quality options who now have experience going through the ACC and an NCAA Tournament or two. That experience should prove to make all the difference for the defense. Keeper Michael Lisch started for the first time as a junior last season and allowed 30 goals while making 81 saves. His best moments came at the end of the 2011 campaign when he used his 6-4 frame to stop three penalties in the shootout NCAA Tournament victory against the Gamecocks. While that experience is huge and Lisch has a lot going for him, he will be pushed by freshman Andrew Harris.

Final Projection:
This is a very good Wake Forest team. They do not have any superstars up front that will score 15 goals in a season, but they have a great leader in Watts and plenty of options up front. Players like Gimenez, Okoli and Lubahn will turn into consistent scoring threats and others are around to help out where needed. But the difference between a win in the NCAA Tournament and a quality run to the quarterfinals or beyond depends on the defense. If they can use their year of experience gained last year and start tallying up a few shutouts here and there, this will be a tough team in the ACC and beyond.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Luca Gimenez, Junior, M/F, 6
Assists: Andy Lubahn, Senior, F, 6; Teddy Mullin, Sophomore, M/F, 6
Shots: Luca Gimenez, Junior, M/F, 52; Andy Lubahn, F, 52
Saves: Michael Lisch, Junior, GK, 81

Madness 2013 MLS Draft Rankings:
#3 Jared Watts
#36 Teddy Mullen
#43 Andy Lubahn
#45 Sean Okoli
#49 Jalen Robinson
#54 Michael Gamble

Madness 2012 Men’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#3 Jalen Robinson
#8 Michael Gamble
#36 Andrew Harris
#85 Thomas Haws