Aug. 22, 2006

Michigan finished the 2005 season 8-10-1 overall, 2-4-0 in the Big Ten tying for fifth place. The Wolverines hosted their first-ever Michigan Invitational, claiming the title after defeating Louisville 1-0 and Long Island 3-1 on the U-M Soccer Field. U-M defeated its first ranked team since 2004, beating No. 25 Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Oct. 20) 2-1 in double overtime. Michigan fell shy of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002, in part to a first round loss in the Big Ten Tournament.   

The 2006 Wolverines will be led by senior tri-captains Kevin Hall, Kevin Savitskie and Brian Popeney. Hall and Savitskie were defensive leaders for the Wolverines in 2005, not only bottling up attackers but also scoring goals. Savitskie was fifth on the team in points (6) and third in goals (3). Hall, who is in his second season as a captain, scored his lone goal of the season against Denver (Sept. 4), netting the game-winner in the 85th minute giving the Wolverines a victory in the MSU/Radisson Classic. Popeney will bring his leadership and experience to the table after playing in 36 games, making five starts and dishing off two assists in his career.   

The 2006 Wolverines will need to replace the players that netted goals for the 2005 season as the top four point earners, Ryan Alexander (2004-05), Trai Blanks (2002-05), Ryan Sterba (2002-05) and Adam Bruh (2002-05), have all departed. Alexander led the team in points (11) with Blanks second (9). Alexander and Blanks also finished tied for first in goals (4). Sterba and Bruh finished tied for third in points (8) and tied for fourth in goals (2). Taking the reigns from the four top point earners will be senior tri-captain defender Kevin Savitskie, sophomore forward Jake Stacy, sophomore forward Steve Bonnell and sophomore defender Chase Tennant. Savitskie and Stacy finished the 2005 season tied for fifth in points (6), while Bonnell and Tennant finished tied for seventh in points (5).

With goalkeeper Peter Dzubay (2002-05) beginning his professional career in Major League Soccer (MLS), the question around town is, who will be the keeper of the net for the 2006 Wolverines? In a four year career, Dzubay amassed a U-M record total of 6,116 minutes in net, making the last 30 starts in goal dating back to October 17, 2004. So far there are three candidates to fill the void -- senior Ryan Bennett, senior/junior Alex Lubyansky and sophomore/freshman Patrick Sperry. Bennett redshirted his freshman year and has played in three games in the past two seasons, grabbing six saves and allowing one goal in a total of 37 minutes. Both Lubyansky and Sperry have yet to make their collegiate debuts but have gained experience in the National Premier Developmental League (NPDL) and the Premier Developmental League (PDL), respectively. In 2006, Lubyansky led the Detroit Arsenal to a 7-2-1 record, while Sperry and the West Michigan Edge finished 6-7-3.

Michigan's 2006 recruiting class ranked 26th on the College Soccer News top 40 list with three highly touted recruits joining the Wolverines. Incoming freshmen Mauro Fuzetti, Perica Marosevic, and Julian Robles will join transfer, sophomore midfielder Nader Jarun. In 2006, Fuzetti earned All-Greater Houston and first team all-district honors. Marosevic was a member of Parade magazine's 2006 All-America team and participated in his second year with the U.S. National Team Under-18 group, traveling to Portugal and competing with the squad in the 13th annual Lisbon International Tournament in June. Robles was named 2006 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern California Defender of the Year after leading Damien High School to its first CIF State Championship title. Robles was also an all-state honoree after receiving all-district and all-region recognition. Jarun played in 14 of 18 matches at Vanderbilt University, tallying six shots with two on goal, as he was part of an attacking front line that ranked fifth in the conference in goals (28) and assists (27), leading the Commodores to their first winning record (9-7-2) in six years.

Head coach Steve Burns is 60-49-9 in six seasons as the leader of Michigan's varsity program. Last season Burns guided the Wolverines to an overall record of 8-10-1, tying for fifth place in the Big Ten. Since Burns took the helm in 2000, the Wolverines have posted 10 or more wins in four out of six seasons, making two NCAA College Cup appearances. Prior to Michigan soccer being granted varsity status on March 26, 1999, Burns was the head coach of the Michigan club team since 1993. Under his leadership, Michigan posted a 121-51-26 mark (.677 winning percentage) and made six consecutive appearances in the national club championship tournament. The team won back-to-back national championships in 1997 and 1998.