2013 MAC Soccer Preview: Hartwick Hawks

Kevork Djansezian

Hartwick wants to erase the memory of a disappointing 2012 season, and it appears that they have the right combination of youth and experience to achieve that goal. If other MAC teams underestimate this team, they do it at their own risk.

The Hartwick men's soccer team has a lot of work ahead of them in the 2013 season as the team seeks to rebound into contention in the Mid-American Conference.

As the Hawks enter their seventh season in the MAC, they seek to end a three-year hiatus from the MAC Tournament.  This hiatus happens to coincide with the tenure of their coach, John Scott, who begins his fourth season as head coach at Hartwick in 2013.  Scott took over the program after the 2009 season from Ian McIntyre.  McIntyre had led Hartwick to a 22-15-18 record in its first three seasons in the league, and that included a 7-4-6 conference mark.  It also included three straight conference tournament appearances and two conference tournament victories.  McIntyre's last game was a 2-1 loss to #1 Akron in the 2009 MAC Championship.

Hartwick's fortunes took an immediate downturn upon Scott's arrival.  The team fell to a 2-14-1 record in 2010 but then managed to have a respectable 5-6-5 season in 2011.  That team mustered a 1-2-3 record in the MAC and finished in fifth place, just outside of the tournament field.  Unfortunately, that renaissance lasted only one season; the Hawks went 5-10-2 last season and finished in seventh place in the MAC.

The good news for Hartwick is that the 2012 team was primarily underclassmen, and many of those younger players gained a great deal of experience.  Chris Walter led the team in minutes as a sophomore and was one of just two players to start every game.  He tied for fourth on the team in points by contributing two goals and two assists.  He managed those two goals after attempting just eight shots all year, including only two on goal.

As a sophomore, Jack Miller will undoubtedly continue to see a lot of playing time.  He was second on the team behind Walter in minutes played as a freshman.  He played in all 17 on defense and started all but one.  He also scored three points with one goal and another assist.

The two best returning options on offense are sophomores David Styles and Marc Russell.  Styles had an impressive debut season at left back, as he started in 15 games and played in all 17.  His four assists tied for second on the team and ninth in the MAC.  He also contributed two goals.  The final of the two was the game-winner against Florida Atlantic in Hartwick's final game of 2012.  Overall, his eight points were third-best for the Hawks.  Russell was even better on offense in his first season at Hartwick.  He was second on the team in goals (four) and points (ten) -- and all of that came in just 15 games.  In fact, Russell started just seven of those.  Russell ended the season in the MAC's top 10 for points-per-game, goals and goals-per-game.  One of his four goals was the game-winner in Hartwick's 1-0 shutout of Bucknell.

Both goalkeepers return to Hartwick for the 2013 season, and both will be juniors.  This may be the most interesting position battle to watch at Hartwick; this pair split time almost identically last season.  Mateo Munarriz started nine of Hartwick's 17 games and led the team to a 3-5-1 record in those games.  Overall, he had a goals-against-average of 1.23 and recorded two shutouts.  His 35 saves ranked sixth in the MAC, and his .745 save percentage was fifth in the conference.  Tom Buckner started Hartwick's other eight games and posted a 2-5-1 record with one shutout.  He recorded 31 saves and a 2.07 goals-against average.  It should be noted that Buckner's GAA was 1.47 with 43 saves during the 2011 season (12 starts).

The Hawks will have to replace five seniors in 2013, but they will have only one key loss on offense to overcome.  Cleyon Brown second-team All-MAC and the team's leading scorer with six goals and three assists.

The 2013 schedule is difficult but does include a lot of games on their home turf, Elmore Field.  They begin with a road trips to Fairfield and Syracuse.  After home games against Cornell and Robert Morris, the Hawks travel to Dallas for a weekend tournament against SMU and Tulsa.  After the trip to Dallas, Hartwick sandwiches a game at Vermont between home tilts against Iona and Massachusetts-Lowell.

The MAC slate begins in earnest on October 5th with a road game at Akron.  They alternate home and road MAC games throughout October, with West Virginia and Western Michigan at home and Buffalo and Bowling Green on the road.  Their final road game of the season is at Albany, and they close the regular season with a home MAC game against Northern Illinois and then a home non-conference match with Bucknell.

Hartwick enters the 2013 season with a 14-19-11 lifetime record against the traditional MAC schools, but that's a tad misleading.  They are 1-9-2 against Akron and 13-10-9 against everyone else.

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