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Season Preview: Freshmen

Aug 29, 2013

SEATTLE -- One day before Washington men’s soccer opens the season at Gonzaga; continues to preview the team. Today, the spotlight is on the freshmen. The freshman class is deep and talented and should go a long ways to getting UW to a spot where they are contending for national championships.

“It is a big and exciting freshman class,” said head coach Jamie Clark. “They came here to help the program get one more rung up closer to the national championship.”

The freshman class begins with Gatorade National Player of the Year, Cristian Roldan. Roldan is an attacking midfielder who scores goals at a prolific pace. In just 32 high school games last year, Roldan scored 54 goals and tallied 31 assists to lead El Rancho HS to a 29-2-1 record.

“The special thing about Cristian is he is not a luxury attacking midfielder,” said Clark. “He works as hard as any defender, fighting and competing for every ball. When he gets it, he has this class and quality to open up defenses. He should make an instant impact for us.”

Another high school award winner is Mason Robertson who was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Arizona. He is a big, talented player that could be a center forward or a central defender.

“Mason has the feet and talent to come in and play right away at either position,” said Clark. He is strong and fast and comes from a soccer background because he father was a professional player. You can tell because Mason plays like he has been around the game more than other players.”

The class also includes three forwards, beginning with Danny Gavin who is an attacking player that tends to play off the center forward. Gavin is a winning player that seems to always play for championship teams. He defends well and finds his way into little slots to end up scoring goals.

“Danny is not the headline guy,” said Clark. “He works in the shadows and ends up being the compliment attacking player, but scores a lot of goals.”  

Another attacking-type player is Dom Dismuke who joined the Dawgs in the spring. He is an athletic player that is great at taking on defenders.

“Dom came to us from the Sounders where he played in some reserve games,” said Clark. “He loves to stretch defenses and push the tempo.”

Finally, Steven Wright is a big center forward that also is great with the ball at his feet. He can pass and looks like a central midfielder with the ball on the ground, despite his size.

“Wright is a 6-5 target forward that is imposing to defenders,” said Clark. “He dad is a soccer coach and his brother played for me at New Mexico. His brother went on the play five year professionally and Steven will follow in his footsteps because he is even more athletic.”

On the defensive end, Jose Ocampo is a local product that will play outside defense. He is a tenacious defender that has experience with the U-18 National Team.  Ocampo sets himself apart with his ability to go forward and be a playmaker with his passing.

“Jose is a playmaker out of the back,” said Clark. “He is a great passer, but can also defend and is a lot of fun to watch.

Also from the defensive side is James Nosack who should slot in as a defensive midfielder, but is capable of playing all over the field. He is a big, physical presence and ball-winner that also has good feet.

“The only question with James is where we will play him,” said Clark. “Once we figure that out he has too many tools and he is physically so developed that it will be hard to keep him off the field.”

Johnny Knutsen is a wide midfielder that is quick and has a tremendous touch. He could need some development time physically, but has tremendous upside.

“Johnny is a great wide midfielder that is tricky running at players,” said Clark. “Physically, he undersized and will have to deal with college defenders, but once he figures that out he’s got the ability because his feet are so good and he has an active mind.”

Another local product is Beau Blanchard who can play both in the defensive midfield and outside back. He was a part of arguably the most successful team in state history as his club, Eastside FC, won six-straight state titles.

“Beau is a really smart soccer player,” said Clark. “He makes good decisions on the ball and does not turn it over very much.”

Finally, the Dawgs brought in a pair of goalkeepers who should be given some time to develop considering what is ahead of them on the depth chart. Spencer Richey is a MAC Herman Trophy candidate and Ryan Herman is considered a starter-caliber backup. Ian Bartlett is the more experienced of the freshmen goalkeepers, while Auden Schilder is a big, athletic keeper who is a bit more raw.

“Ian is a tall, athletic goalkeeper with good hands,” said Clark. “He is built like the new breed of goalies that are tall and lean, but very athletic. It will just be a matter of getting him the game experience.”

“Auden hasn’t had the exposure of some of our guys, but we think he might be a gem,” said Clark. “He has the frame and the tools, but just not the experience.”

Overall, it is an exciting freshmen class that has a variety of skills. The depth and talent of this class should help Washington to some outstanding seasons over the next few years.