Quakers to continue climb in OAC

WC coming off 11-7-1 season

July 23, 2012

Juniors Henrik Hornnaess (at left) and Kurt Egbert (at right) will be key role players for the Quakers in 2012.

Juniors Henrik Hornnaess (at left) and Kurt Egbert (at right) will be key role players for the Quakers in 2012.

Wilmington College will look to continue its march back to the top of the Ohio Athletic Conference in 2012.

The Quakers were 11-7-1 in 2011 and returned to the OAC Tournament. Head coach Bud Lewis said his team is poised to ascend the conference ladder.

“We saw great goals scored, some great defending and great goalkeeping last year. I expect that we will be very competitive from the get-go this season,” Lewis said. “It was fun to get out there and know that when we stepped on the field we could compete with whoever we were going to face. I feel good about the maturity that our team has taken in a year’s time.”

Juniors Antonio Trujillo and Anton Niklasson comprise one of the most talented goalkeeping tandems in the OAC.

“Anton took the starting spot last year because of his strong play with his feet. He gives us a very strong offensive advantage. Antonio is such a natural athlete with great instincts. We are very fortunate to have two keepers at that level,” Lewis said.

Wilmington’s defensive corps gained valuable experience in 2011. Leading the group of returnees is sophomore center back Ben Armstrong and Dan Wicks, who is making the move to wing back. Another sophomore, Joey Brown, had a strong spring season playing in the defensive third.

“We made progress last year, but we still gave up too many goals,” Lewis said. “We gave up a couple soft goals that really proved costly. We have to eliminate those mistakes this season,” Lewis said.

A primary task in the midfield will be filling the shoes of Armin Fejzic, who was an All-OAC and All-Great Lakes Region performer in 2011. Look for junior Jeff Graham and sophomores Dan Wicks, Evan Schlagetter and 2011 All-OAC pick Martin Holmquist to provide synergy in the midfield.

“Armin will be a hard person to replace, but I think we have some people who are up to the challenge. Evan was an unsung hero last year with hard work every game. Martin is making the move to midfield. He shows great vision and is a good passer. He is going to lift our attack and give us some maturity in the midfield,” Lewis said.

The wing attack will feature Drew Fields and Taylor Estes.

Erik Hammar (shown at left) was an All-OAC forward last season and will be relied upon heavily in 2012.

“We were very dependent — maybe too dependent — on Erik last year. He had a very good spring season. What will be key to our success up front is to give Erik some support, and I think we have some new players coming in who show the potential to be extremely explosive and give us the depth we need in that role,” Lewis said. “We also feel that Kurt Egbert can be a target up front.”

One of the Quakers’ keys to success last season was the play of its talented freshman class. Lewis is counting on newcomers making an impact again in 2012. On the list of top recruits are Ethan Zimpfer, Marcus Thorbjornsson and Cody Sabins.

“Ethan can play anywhere on the field, and Marcus is a strong attacking player who can hold the ball. He will give us some control in the attacking half of the field. Cody is a target player with burning speed who can really go at people,” Lewis said.

The schedule, as always, is a beast. Non-conference matches include some of the top squads in the North Coast and Heartland conferences. The OAC offers nine regular-season battles, six of which will be away from home.

“The pre-conference schedule sets the table. We will face tough teams from Allegheny, Hiram, Wittenberg, Transylvania, Earlham, Kenyon and Denison,” Lewis said. “The OAC keeps getting better from top to bottom. We are going to have to play well on the road, and we have three key games at home with Muskingum, Baldwin-Wallace and John Carroll.”