HARRISONBURG, Va. (WVIR) - James Madison University Men’s Soccer added 13 newcomers to its roster, and 12 of those players are freshmen. However, coach Paul Zazenski isn’t worried about the quality of soccer these athletes are going to bring to the program, it’s the challenges of youth.
“Not only college athletics, but the world. So, not only how do they adjust to the rigors of academics? But how quickly can they mold themselves into the teammates that they want to be? Physically, are they fit and ready to go from this long layoff that we’ve all had?” Zazenski said.
The coach believes these players he and his coaching staff have recruited are entirely capable of adjusting to college athletics: “Ultimately, I think that the quality is going to be there,” he said.
JMU is coming off a successful year: The Dukes finished 11-7-3, and made it to the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
“We had a tremendous amount of guys that I could go down the list and name them. They were all vital to our success for the past couple of seasons,” Zazenski said.
After losing a group of elite players, including star midfielder Manuel Ferriol - who was drafted 40th overall in the MLS by FC Dallas - it’s up to the Dukes to fill their cleats.
“It‘s hard to replace 16 goals from the record season, but with that being said, we are confident that we’ve got the right guys in this class. Someone impact might make more of an impact than others, but we’re confident that they are going to fill that void to a certain degree, but also the guys that are returning will have that responsibility as well,” Zazenski said.
James Madison University Men’s Soccer is unsure when the Dukes are able to begin in person practices. They hope to begin August 12. In the meantime strength and conditioning coach Christian Carter gave all the players voluntary summer workout plan.