The Wolfpacker

September 2018

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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62 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY JACEY ZEMBAL T he NC State men's soccer team brought in 10 newcomers last year and added another 12 in the class of 2018 to turn over the roster. Second-year head coach George Kiefer went 8-6-4 overall and 3-3-2 in the ACC during his Wolfpack debut last year. The former standout South Florida coach hopes some of the players that gained in- valuable experience last year will have it pay off this fall. Sophomore forward Manny Perez and sophomore goalie Leon Krapf lead the way in NC State's youth movement. Nineteen of the 31 players on the current roster are freshmen and sophomores, and all but three starters are back from the squad that reached the NCAA Tournament, where it suffered a 2-0 loss at Old Dominion. "The exciting part of this season is having signed this [freshman] class we have, it's a little bigger than I normally like," Kiefer said. "Blending that group will be quite a challenge this fall. "There was not only a focus on bringing in players that can compete in the ACC right away, but also players that can make the roster much stronger from top to bottom." Kiefer was looking forward to practices in August, with the first official game Aug. 24 against South Carolina-Upstate. He ex- pects a big second year from Perez, who is from Garner, N.C. The 6-0, 161-pounder led the Wolfpack with five goals and tied for second with four assists for a team-best 14 points. He also had three game-winning goals, which also paced the squad. "Getting him back was excellent," Kiefer said. "Last year, we were a little predictable, but now we will have more balance. "We'll have guys that can pitch it from the left and then Manny on the right." Perez was named the ACC Freshman of the Year and earned second-team all-league honors. His two goals helped upset Lou- isville, then ranked No. 5 nationally, 3-2 Oct. 21. "I think he had a good year, but I don't think he had an exceptional season," Kiefer said. "I do think there is a lot of room for growth as far as Manny defending, but then also the assists." The coach added the assist total can also be partly blamed on his teammates not get- ting the scoring touch around the net. That said, he has set the goal of Perez having eight assists this season. "I expect him to blow his [freshman] numbers out of the water," Kiefer said. Fifth-year senior Ade Taiwo could be one of the key leaders. The forward tallied two Sophomore Manny Perez was named ACC Freshman of the Year last season after he paced the Pack with five goals, three game-winning markers and 14 points. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS M E N ' S SOCCER PREVIEW ECLECTIC BLEND NC State Features Young And Old After A Big Recruiting Class ■ Key Games • At Wake Forest, Sept. 7: The Demon Deacons fin- ished No. 1 in the country in the final regular-season RPI last year, but lost 2-0 to eventual national cham- pion Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. Wake Forest went 19-2-2, including 6-0 on the road. • Vs. Louisville, Sept. 28: The Cardinals reached the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals before losing 4-3 in a shootout against Akron. The two teams played through a scoreless regulation and two overtimes. Louisville finished ranked No. 8 in the country in the RPI, after going 13-2-5. • Vs. UNC, Oct. 12: North Carolina finished No. 2 in the country in the regular-season RPI, after going 17-4-1. The Tar Heels fell 1-0 to Indiana in the NCAA Tournament semifinals last year.

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