By Nick Morgan, Sports Editor

MEN’S SOCCER – A combination of returning impact players and fresh faces gives Asbury men’s soccer team opportunities for success this year.

The Eagles graduated six seniors after the 2016 season, leaving a number of holes to be filled. Coach Ben Andrews knew that because of this he needed serious improvement from his younger players.

“I think there’s a realization that we’ve increased our level of depth for this season,” Andrews, who has coached for eight seasons, said. “We’ve recruited some good freshmen, which challenges our upperclassmen to be more competitive for their spots, and we’re a better team because of it.”

Players to Watch

Austin Baker (JR, M) – Baker is coming off an impressive All-RSC first team season, in which he netted one goal and placed nine assists. Look to see him produce dangerous offensive runs and lock down defense on the right side for the Eagles this season.

Noah Welch (SO, F) – Welch did not seem to be affected by the change of pace in the collegiate level last season, scoring 16 goals and placing ten assists. Watch out for another impressive season up front for the sophomore.

Ryan Metcalf (SR, M) – Metcalf looks to continue his run of form over the last three seasons into his senior year. Over those years, he has netted 24 goals with eight assists, so expect more of the same from the captain this season.

Some new faces for the Eagles who look to impress: Isaac Amaya (F), Fionn McCartan (M), Owen Sigey (F), Joe Harper (M).

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WOMEN’S SOCCER – New freshmen look to bolster holes in an already strong Lady Eagles squad.

“The goal is always to win conference, but we’re not even focused on that, we are focused on getting better every single day,” stated head coach Brooke Lincoln. “We’ve grown for sure, but there is definitely room for improvement.”

The women’s soccer team has performed with a sense of determination and urgency for the past few years. Senior midfielder Mia Wiersema said, “My freshman year was the first year Coach [Lincoln] recruited, so the commitment level is very different from previous years.”

Players to Watch

Emily Hubbuch (JR, F) – Coming off an impressive season, which led her to the River States Conference (RSC) Offensive Player of the Year award, Hubbuch looks to continue scoring goals. She led the team and was second in the RSC in goals (15) and goals per game (1.72).

Mia Wiersema (SR, M) – As one of only four seniors, Wiersema will look to continue her contributions to the Eagle’s midfield as one of the strongest players on the squad.

Georgia Clark (SO, M) – Clark scored six goals and added three assists in the 2016 campaign for the Lady Eagles, so expect to see major contributions out of the midfield from her this season.

New faces to look out for: Brittany Lawson (M), Kaitlyn Miracle (D), Cam Davis (M).

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VOLLEYBALL – The Lady Eagles look to make a statement in the RSC this season.

“We’ve got high expectations for this squad,” Coach Keith Stowe said. “We have a pretty veteran crew, so we didn’t have to change a whole lot in our rotation for this season.”

Senior middle blocker Kayla Morlan agreed: “Our ultimate goal is to win conference, and we have eight seniors this year, so we definitely have high expectations for ourselves.”

After a dismal 0-0-6 start in 2016, the Lady Eagles stormed back to 17-16 and made a trip to the RSC championship game. The whole team looks determined to prove what they are made of in this upcoming season.

Players to Watch

Kayla Morlan (SR, MB) – Coming off her second First Team all-RSC award, Morlan will prove to be a vital piece of this team. She looks to continue being an offensive force, improving on her 2016 total of 331 kills. Defensively, Morlan is one of the team’s best blockers.

Madeline Morris (SR, LS) – As another offensive specialist, Morris looks to team up with Morlan to be one of the deadlier duos on the front line in the conference.

Bailee Settle – (SR, L/DS) – Settle looks to bring more to the table as the libero for the Eagles this year. Coming off an impressive 2016 campaign with 288 assists and 298 digs, the defensive specialist will continue to show her worth on the defensive front.