As July comes to a close, get excited Wahoos, as we've only a month to go until football season is upon us! That's right, it's almost fall: the season of crisp air, apple cider, and football (futbol) NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS. It might have gotten lost in the hubbub of all the following trophies brought home by UVa last year - it can be hard to keep up with all the winning and winning and winning - but the first championship claimed last year was Men's Soccer's overtime victory over UCLA. I recommend reliving the excitement coupled with another taste of delicious UCLA head coach sour grapes.
With a new season quickly approaching, the Wahoos will look to be the first team since Indiana in 2004 to repeat as national champions. Here is a glance at some key returning players including some new starters:
- Sheldon Sullivan - D - RS So. While there will be plenty of goal scoring and a star keeper to replace on this year's squad, the most important returning player in my opinion is Sullivan. As a redshirt freshmen last season, Sullivan (along with his brother, Kyler, a graduated senior) anchored the UVa defense - the clear strength of the team when one considers all of those OT/PK victories. Sullivan was the only Hoo to start every game last season and played EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of EVERY SINGLE GAME.
- Darius Madison - F - Sr. Madison should serve as the primary goal scoring threat for the Wahoos this season, coming off of his second year being named to the College Cup All-Tournament Team. Despite missing the beginning of the season to injury, Madison finished tied for second on the team in goals scored and third in points. He also won the coveted Pierce award for "Most Likely to Cause an Opposing Player to Lash Out in Anger."
- Nicko Corriveau - F/M - Jr. Corriveau was the other Wahoo last year to finish behind star (and current MLS player) Eric Bird in goals scored. He started games both at the midfield and forward position and while plenty of returning guys will be looked upon to fill the offensive needs (don't sleep on returning-from-a-redshirt-injury-year Marcus Salandy-Defour), I think Corriveau's role will grow even more in his junior season.
- Pablo Aguilar - M - RS So. It takes a special type of player to jump into a fallen captain-star-best-player's shoes in the middle of a season - and to do so effectively. Aguilar did just that, starting in place of Eric Bird all throughout the NCAA tournament run. He assisted on multiple game-winning goals in the tournament and should look to shore up the central midfield for the Hoos again this year.
- Jeff Caldwell - GK - So. Caldwell came to Charlottesville as a freshman last season and actually won the starting gig in goal for the Hoos coming out of summer practices. However, he joined the USMNT U20 team in Argentina early in the season (with full support from the UVa coaching staff), which led to now-graduated hero Calle Brown's emergence in goal. Caldwell is supremely talented and showed well in his limited action as a freshman - he's got a big job to take over, but should be up to the challenge.