Providence, RI- With the return of 20 players from last year's squad, the Brown University men's soccer team will look to build on its success from last season and contend for its 20th Ivy League title and make its 24th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Under the direction of first-year head coach Patrick Laughlin, the Bears will look to senior captains David Walls (Leeds, England) and Paul Grandstrand (Orono, MN) to guide the returners as well as the team's six newcomers both on and off the field.
A perennial strength of the Bears, the defensive unit looks to be strong once again this year. The back line returns its top two defenders in Walls and sophomore Dylan Remick (Inverness, IL), who anchored the defense last season that allowed just 16 goals as the squad registered seven shutouts on the year.
Walls, an Honorable Mention All-Ivy selection and a third-team NSCAA Northeast Region selection, was named a captain for the second consecutive season and played and started in 18 contests last year. He scored two goals and handed out two assists last season and was a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honoree.
Medairos started in 15 of 17 games for Bruno last season and tallied one assist, which came during the Bears' thrilling 1-0 double overtime NCAA Tournament victory against Stony Brook. McNamara sparked the squad immediately last season and tied for the team-lead in goals with five, all of which were game-winners. The sophomore's five game-winners led the Ivy League, and he ranked third in the league in goals scored and ninth in shots-per-game.
Okafor has been a solid force in his last three seasons with the Bears. Okafor played in 17 contests last season and started in nine. While he tallied just two goals for the Bears, Okafor stepped up to be near the top in assists as he handed out five. Junior Taylor Gorman (Freeport, ME) saw action in 16 games last season and picked up five points on two goals and an assist, and juniors Jay Hayward (Acton, MA) and Mike Manella (Toluca Lake, CA) are also expected to make big contributions to the midfield.
Hayward competed in 13 games and added a goal and two assists in 2009, while Manella started in 13 of 19 contests with three assists to his name. Also, sophomore Bobby Belair (Myrtle Beach, SC) and freshman Jack Kuntz (Chatham, NJ) are expected to add depth and vie for time on the field. Belair returns after missing the entire 2009 season due to an injury, and Kuntz joins the squad from leading Chatham High School to a NJ State Cup Championship in both 2008 and 2009.
Also returning for the Bears is junior Austin Mandel (Tarzana, CA) and junior T.J. Popolizio (Rexford, NY). Tied for the team-lead in goals last season, Mandel started in nine of 14 contests for the Bears and netted two game-winners for the Bears. Popilizio, a two-sport athlete at Brown, saw action in 13 games last season and scored his first career goal and assist in a 2-1 victory over the Yale Bulldogs. Also helping the offense will be freshman Voltaire Escalona (Blue Bell, PA), who was a four-year varsity starter at Germantown Academy and a three-time All-Inter AC League First Team Choice and All-Area team member.
Brown's goalkeeping will once again be strong, as First Team All-Ivy senior goalkeeper Paul Grandstrand (Orono, MN) will be back between the pipes. The 2007 Ivy League's Rookie of the Year, boasted a 10-3-5 record last season which included five shutouts. He competed 1707:54 minutes and allowed just 15 goals (0.79 gaa) and tallied 55 saves (.786 save %). He also received the team's Thomas Gertken Award, which is given to the team's top defensive player. Grandstrand had a phenomenal rookie campaign where he strung together an undefeated 10-0-1 regular-season record.
Sophomore Sam Kernan-Schloss (Arlington, VA) returns having gained valuable experience learning from Grandstrand last season. The Bears are adding 6-foot-2 freshman Josh Weiner (Armonk, NY) to the mix, who posted a 40-3-2 record at Byram Hills High School as a two-year varsity starter.