LYNCHBURG, Va.- For just the second time in its short but successful history, the Randolph men's soccer team will have a new head coach at the helm. Adam Godwin, who was named to the position back in March, takes over the reins from Bryan Waggoner, who became the head man at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.
"The thing that I have been the most pleased about or maybe humbled about is the guys bought in immediately, no questions asked," said Godwin. "We ask a lot of them in terms of from a fitness standpoint. I have never been part of a program where we had 100% of the players pass the fitness test. That showed me that they were committed for five weeks in the spring and then when they went away for three months on their own when there is no accountability but themselves, they still bought into this program and bought into what we are trying to do."
The WildCats finished 10-9 overall and 4-5 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in 2017. The 'Cats were the #7 seed in last year's tournament and knocked off Roanoke in the quarterfinals before falling in the semifinals to Washington and Lee. The team brings back a large number of returners and will look to make a return trip to the playoffs.
Randolph's top two scorers from last season come back in senior Adam Watson (Midlothian, Va./Midlothian) and junior Frankie DiOrio (Bristow, Va./Patriot). Watson had a career season for the WildCats with nine goals scored (tied for first in the ODAC) to go along with three assists for 21 points. He was named to the ODAC First Team, the VaSID All-State First Team and the United Soccer Coaches All-South Atlantic Third Team. DiOrio was the only player to start all 19 games. He had a breakout year with seven goals tallied, which was the most by a back in the ODAC.
Another key contributor is sophomore Evan Blow (Charlottesville, Va./Charlottesville). As a first year last season, Blow started 13 of 19 games tallying one goal and assisting on five others. Fellow sophomores Daniel Over (Westminster, Md./Winters Mill) and Barun Tamang (Charlottesville, Va./Charlottesville) make up a strong midfield.
DiOrio mans the back line once again. He has been a reliable player on defense as he has started all 38 games he has played in the last two seasons.
Both goalkeepers come back in junior Erick Cortez-Martinez (Winston-Salem, N.C./North Forsyth) and senior Austin Collier (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory). Both split time in 2017. Collier had a strong start a year ago with wins in his first five starts. Cortez-Martinez played a key role down the stretch as he helped Randolph clinch its playoff spot.
Nine first-year players join the squad in 2018. "We have a really talented group who have the ability to compete for playing time," noted Godwin. "I think it's a group that over their four year career at Randolph, are going to impact this program in a really big way on and off the field
The WildCats will once again have a tough schedule to navigate with non-conference opponents tallying a winning percentage of .606 a year ago. Overall, three teams on the docket were in the NCAA Tournament with two ranked in the preseason top 25 in ODAC members Lynchburg and Washington and Lee.
"What I am hoping for out of the non-conference schedule is by the time we get to conference play, we will know (a) who we are and (b) that some of the positional battles will have been won," stated Godwin. "Our ability to win on the road is going to be such a big deal to our success. It's a journey that I am excited to go on with these guys."
The 2018 season kicks off on the road at the Frostburg State University Kickoff this Saturday. The WildCats will take on DeSales University. The home opener is September 7 against Greensboro and the ODAC opener is September 19 versus Randolph-Macon.