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Men's Soccer - Mon, Sep. 1, 2014

MEN'S SOCCER WEEKLY NOTES WEEK ONE

DETROIT -- It's a new year for Marygrove men's soccer and sixth-year head coach Matt Johnson. After compiling an 11-8 record overall and a 5-5 mark in conference play a season ago, the Mustangs will aim to keep climbing the NAIA and WHAC ladder this season behind a mix of key returners and talented newcomers. After their originally scheduled season/home opener was canceled, the Mustangs will now hit the pitch for the first time this season at the Taylor (Ind.) Classic Friday (Sept. 5) against the host Trojans.

The new season-opener brings about a familiar opponent as the Mustangs and Trojans have met annually since men's soccer opened play in 2009. The Trojans own a slim 3-2 edge in the all-time series, but the Mustangs have been victorious in the previous two outings – with both wins coming at Marygrove.

NAIA power Indiana Wesleyan University awaits in day two of the Taylor Classic as the Mustangs prepare to upend the Wildcats at 4 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 6). Both games will feature live stats coverage from the host, Taylor University.

A LOOK AHEAD
Marygrove at Taylor University
Date: Friday, September 5
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Taylor University - Upland, Ind.
Coverage: Live Stats

Marygrove vs. Indiana Wesleyan University
Date: Saturday, September 6
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Taylor University - Upland, Ind.
Coverage: Live Stats

THE LAST TIME THEY MET
Marygrove and Taylor have met five times (once each season) since the Mustangs opened play in 2009. The teams met last season in Detroit on Aug. 24 with the Mustangs coming away victorious by a narrow 2-1 final. The Mustangs have never faced Indiana Wesleyan.

A LOOK AT THE TROJANS
The Trojans are looking to get back on track after suffering through a 4-11-3 campaign in 2013. In all, nine of the Trojans' 13 losses came by a one-goal margin. All-Crossroads League performers Tim Daniels and Tim Miller have returned to lead the Trojans to a 1-2 record to begin the 2014 slate.

A LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
Indiana Wesleyan split their first two games of 2014 by defeating Robert Morris (Ill.) and losing to LU-Belleville (Ill.). The Wildcats return three of their four top scorers from 2013 – a season that ended in a Crossroads League title and a trip to the NAIA's Round of 16.

WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS
The Mustangs will finally hit the pitch for the first time in 2014 Friday (Sept. 5) at the Taylor Classic. The early September kick is the latest season opener in the six-year history of men's soccer at Marygrove. The Aug. 30 home opener vs. Rochester was canceled by the opposition due to a scheduling conflict.

JOHNSON'S CORNER
"We're excited to finally get on the field and test ourselves against tough NAIA competition," said sixth-year head coach Matt Johnson. "We lost quite a bit of production after graduating Jad [El-Zein], but we return quality attackers in Abdoulie Jallow and Oneil Robinson. The key is if we can keep Abdoulie in an attacking role and if Oneil can remain healthy this season," continued Johnson. "I expect us to be stronger in the back than in past seasons because Moussa [Diallo[ and Ali [El Habhab] have played together for a couple years now."

LOOKING TO EVEN THE SCORE
The Mustangs are 2-3 all-time in season openers since hitting the pitch for the first time in 2009. A win against Taylor could even up the team's record in openers as the Mustangs enter into arguably their most difficult non-conference slate in program history. A season-opening win would also draw the all-time series even between the Mustangs and Trojans at three games apiece.

ABDOULIE ON THE ATTACK
Jallow, a two-time WHAC All-Conference First Team performer, will return to a familiar place this season as part of the Mustangs' attack. Last year, Jallow moved to the defense after the team's starting center back suffered a near season-ending injury. Despite moving to previously uncharted territories at the college level, Jallow excelled in the back en route to earning multiple honors. The return to the attack full-time could lead Jallow to a repeat of his freshman season where he tallied nine goals and a team-leading eight assists.

NEW FACES COULD SEE TIME EARLY
Don't worry, you are looking at the right team. After losing seven lettermen and five starters, the Mustangs were forced to bring in a deep recruiting class for the upcoming season. In all, 16 athletes appear on the active men's soccer roster for the first time in 2014. Of the 16, freshmen Mohamed Alkhulaidi, Ma Sambou Jatta, Jeff Okerstrom, and Andriy Pelekh are a few that could see time immediately.

MEN'S SOCCER CONTACT: Tim Johnston | tjohnston@marygrove.edu | @tjohnston56
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