Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Tuesday, August 27, 2002
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Soccer can be a funny game. The margin between teams is frequently slim, and a little thing like an unexpected bounce or an odd deflection or an inch in either direction can make the difference in winning or losing. So what kind of effect does changing one vowel in the head coach’s name have?

That’s what the Muhlenberg men’s soccer team will find out this season, as
Ben Long
Long leads all active players in career
goals (19) and points (45).
Sean Topping takes over the reins from Jeff Tipping, who left to become director of coaching education for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

The Mules open up this weekend at RIT’s Tiger Invitational, a tournament they won three years ago. Muhlenberg takes on Macalester, ranked 16th in the Division III preseason poll, on Friday at 3:00.

There wasn’t need to change much more than a vowel. The Mules finished first or second in their conference in all but two of Tipping’s 16 seasons. Last year, they
School 2001
Gettysburg (7) 6-3 78
Johns Hopkins (3) 9-0 75
McDaniel 6-3 52
F & M 6-3 49
Haverford 5-4 48
Dickinson 2-7 27
Swarthmore 1-8 23
Washington 1-8 19
Ursinus 3-6 15
tied for second in the Centennial Conference before falling in the CC semifinals to finish at 12-6. Muhlenberg was picked to finish third in the 2002 CC preseason poll (at right).

“Hopefully we’ll just keep going in the same direction,” said Topping, who played for Tipping for four years and was his assistant coach two seasons.

Nine players who started at least 10 games return, led by senior captains Ben Long and Quentin McDowell. Long was named to the All-CC first team after scoring 13 points on five goals and three assists, while McDowell earned All-CC honorable mention anchoring a defense that allowed only 17 goals in 18 matches.

The top returning scorers, with six goals apiece last season, are sophomore Timothy Sparta and senior David Vassilaros. Junior Evan Smallwood (All-CC second team) and senior Michael Hochkeppel anchor the central midfield, with senior Tom Hartey and Justin Marx manning the flanks. Junior co-captain Pat Ryan and junior Justin Henning return at the back positions.

“We have a lot of experienced guys back, along with some good freshmen who will get playing time,” said Topping. “We’re going to be a team that doesn’t quit. There were signs of that last year, when we got behind and came back to win.”

After returning from Rochester, the Mules take on local rivals DeSales and Moravian in the annual Kwik Goal Classic next weekend, and open CC play against Dickinson on Sept. 21.

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Last updated August 27, 2002