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Going for Three-In-A-Row

Following back-to-back NCCAA D2 National Championships, the future looks bright for the Clearwater Christian College men's soccer team as it looks to continue its winning tradition. The 2011 Cougar team will have a new look following the graduation of a large group of senior leaders. The Cougars will return a solid core of 11 players overall: 5 seniors, and 7 starters from the 2010 campaign including two All-Americans in goalkeeper Anthony DeRosse and defender Matt Tewes. Tewes will be returning after missing most of the 2010 season following a season-ending ACL injury.

As the 2-time defending champions, the Cougars are no longer a surprise on the national scene and will be looking to continue to build on their tradition of success. According to Coach Whitaker, "We have had an amazing run these past 2 years, and God has really blessed our team. We've got an outstanding group of returning players with a lot of valuable experience that we will lean on heavily this season. These guys have worked extremely hard and are committed to continuing to improve and move our program forward. We're also excited about adding an outstanding incoming class to help our team get better going into next season. We have a number of guys that have the ability to step in and help our team immediately next year. We're excited about the challenge of defending our National Title in 2011."

A solid group of returning players will be looked at to lead the team both on and off of the field. The defense will be led by DeRosse, Tewes, and Matt Wells, an All-Region selection as a junior. The midfield will be led by seniors Mac Hildebrand, Brian Chidarikire, and Drew Custer, a senior who will be moving into a new role as attacking midfielder. Senior forward Walter Scharf has worked extremely hard in the off-season and will provide leadership and goal scoring to the Cougar offense this season.

In addition to the solid core of returning players, 17 new players came in this year to form one of the strongest recruiting classes in school history. Look for several new faces to make an immediate impact in the lineup for the Cougars. Seth Dempsey will bring a lot of experience as a forward after playing the previous two seasons at Southhampton Community College. John Woodhall also brings 2 years of college playing experience to the midfield and is expected to make major contributions to the Cougar lineup as well. Freshmen Chad Broussard, Ben Holmes, Johnathan Moore, James Sikes, Sean Tierney, Riley Tuininga, and Nathan Shefcyk should all factor into the lineup and make a significant impact right away this season.

The schedule for 2011 is the most difficult schedule CCC has ever faced. In addition to the strong competition from within the NCCAA South Region, the Cougars will face a number of scholarship programs including 7 NAIA and 5 NCAA II opponents.

Coach Whitaker's goal for this season: "I am excited about the challenge ahead for the 2011 season. We have an outstanding mix of experienced returning players who know what it takes to win at this level and talented incoming players with the potential to really contribute to our team right away next season. My desire is for us to continue our outstanding run and compete at the highest level, but at the same time, keep our focus on what is truly important and use soccer as a tool to glorify God. I want to really challenge our players to continue to grow in their soccer ability but more importantly in their relationship with God."

The Cougar soccer team has continued high expectations for 2011, and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.