The Hendrix College men’s soccer team opens the 2012 season Friday at Maryville College in Tennessee.
The Warriors will follow on Saturday with a game against Piedmont College in Maryville, before returning home to take on in-state rival University of the Ozarks on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Fifth-year head coach Doug Mello, who has coached more games than anyone in collegiate soccer history, returns 10 letter winners, including six starters, from last year’s squad that won seven games. However, Mello has added 14 talented freshmen and a sophomore transfer for the 2012 campaign.
Senior forward/midfielder Connor Silvestri of Conway, a two-time all-conference selection in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, is the Warriors’ leading returning scorer with 11 goals and four assists last year. Silvestri is one goal from tying the Hendrix career record of 36 held by Duncan Keegan, who was a senior a year ago.
Three seniors will anchor the backfield for Hendrix. Grant Womack and Kevin Gregory started all 18 games a year ago and Dylan Reed, who started 17 games in the midfield, will move to defender for his senior season. Also returning is sophomore Kyle Wicks, who appeared in seven games last year. Freshmen John McGrath, Levi Jabben, Drew Plant and Larry Brignard will vie for time at defender as well.
Starting with the Ozarks game on Tuesday, the Warriors will have a six-game home tand. East Texas Baptist, LeTourneau and Howard Payne will all come to Conway in the following week, then Hendrix will host the Warrior Classic against Simpson and UT Tyler on Sept. 14th and 16th. Hendrix will also host NCAA Division II member Ouachita Baptist on Oct. 2
After non-conference road trips to Centenary and Lyon in late September, the Warriors will open Southern Athletic Association play at Millsaps on Sept. 29. Hendrix will not host an SAA team until the final three games of the regular season, starting with Centre on Oct. 19.