After making the NCAA Division III tournament in three of the past four seasons, the Wesleyan men’s soccer team faces some lofty expectations in their 2013 campaign. Their season was rocked last spring, when a number of team members were caught in an alleged hazing incident. Participants were suspended for at least two games, and some as many as six.

Team co-captains Daniel Issroff ’15 and Ben Bratt ’15 will look to provide leadership for what is likely to be a scrappy opening two games for the Cardinals.

“The team is looking forward to moving on from last year’s events and having a successful season on and off the field,” said Issroff, who was second on the team in points first in assists last year.

He also sees the suspensions as an opportunity for the squad.

“I think the approach that we’ve chosen to take is to view the situation as positively as possible. It will give a lot of younger guys a chance to… gain valuable experience. It has put us in a unique position where we will be relying on contributions from just about everyone.”

Wesleyan is also looking to fill in for the loss of first-team all-American Rory O’Neill ’13, and NESCAC Player of the Year Adam Purdy ’13. Issroff assured  that while the team will have “big gloves” to fill, “we have a really nice, deep group of quality goalkeepers and I anticipate that we’ll see one of those guys rise to the challenge of replacing [Purdy].” The team’s opening match against Framingham State on Wednesday, Sept. 4 will be the first game since 2008 without Purdy starting in net.

Competing to inherit Purdy’s spot between the posts will be Billy Queen ’16 and Emmett McConnell ’15, the latter of whom played 11 minutes last season, the former, none. Also on the team is Derek Grammer ’17, who stood out from two other freshmen and earned a spot on the varsity squad. McConnell will be suspended for the Framingham State match, leaving Queen and Grammer to compete for the opening day start.

Despite the departures, Issroff is optimistic regarding the team’s chances. “We have a very talented group and I see no reason why we shouldn’t expect to make the NCAA tournament,” the co-captain said. “That’s really key because once you’re in the tournament, you never know what can happen.”

“We haven’t really had a deep run into the tournament for a while. It would be nice if this was the year that that finally happened,” Issroff added. “We definitely have the ability and I think it’ll just be a matter of everything clicking for us at the right time.”

The team certainly has a few games in particular highlighted on their schedule, including back-to-back matchups on Oct. 12 and 17 against Little Three opponents Williams and Amherst, the second of which is a Saturday home match. The majority of their suspended players are expected to return Saturday, Sept. 14, against Wheaton College.

Issroff pledges to make a deal with the Wesleyan community. If people show up, they “can expect to see lots of goals from us this year and I promise we’ll try our best to put on a show for all the fans.” He added further incentive for bachelors of both sexes. “We’re a team of absolute studs as well. Basically, there are lots of reasons to come watch us play, whether you like soccer or not.”

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