Focus on Sports
Skipjacks prep for challenging opening week

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Skipjacks will find out rather quickly just how much they have improved since last season’s 2-10-1 campaign.

Chesapeake College opens its men’s soccer season with a 7 p.m. game Wednesday night at Anne Arundel Community College, which handed the Skipjacks a 3-0 defeat last season. Second-year head coach Tony Redman indicated he’ll know a lot more about his team after taking on the Pioneers, who were 8-10-1 last year and opened this season with a 3-1 victory over Potomac State (W.Va.) College.

"I think I’ve got a club that could compete with what they (Anne Arundel) put on the field last year, but I have no idea if they’ve also upgraded their team," said Redman. "Anne Arundel will be a good test of what we’ll face this season."

Redman believes the Anne Arundel game will give him a gauge on whether his team is ready to move into the middle of the pack in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference.

"I believe there are four teams clearly better than us and four teams clearly worse," said Redman. "If we can play with Anne Arundel, we could be part of the middle of the pack."

Once again, however, depth will be a problem for the Skipjacks. Redman currently has 12 players, although he is hoping to have two more available in the near future as soon as they are certified as NJCAA-eligible.

"My major concern is a lack of depth – 90 minutes is a long time, and we don’t have the subs I need," said Redman, adding, "I’m still recruiting."

Sweeper Ben Startt, midfielder Kilmer Verardi, and midfielder Riva Hagins are the Skipjacks’ returning players. Startt was Chesapeake’s leading goal-scorer last year, Verardi was one of the team’s top midfielders and Hagins’ versatility made him particularly valuable, according to Redman.

"They come back with a little more experience than last year and, perhaps more important, a greater awareness of what the level of play is in Maryland JuCo soccer," Redman said of his three returners.

Center/midfielder Kevin Brown (North Caroline High), striker Craig Remenapp (Kent Island High School), midfielder Mike Hedl (Wesleyan Christian), and backs Mike Roark (North Caroline High), Josh Roark (St. Michaels High) and Rob Hambleton (St. Michaels High) are expected to complement Redman’s trio of returners.

"Kevin Brown, Mike Roark and Josh Roark have played a lot of club ball and they bring more experience than you’d typically get with players new to the program," said Redman, who also noted Brown played a season with the Skipjacks several years ago.

Kenny Verardi will join older brother Kilmer as a center/midfielder and Taylor Sandebeck (Kent County High) will be a reserve. B.J. Miller, actually recruited to play basketball, will replace Kevin Weems – who opted for fall baseball – in goal.

"B.J. has really only one full season of soccer experience, but he’s tall, very athletic and aggressive," said Redman.

After facing Anne Arundel, the Skipjacks travel to Howard Community College for a 10 a.m. game Saturday against the defending state champions. Howard lost four all-state performers from last year’s squad and dropped a 2-1 decision to powerful Camden County (N.J.) College in its season opener.

"We’ll do what we can do against Howard," said Redman, who was chagrined at being forced to play a 10 a.m. away game. "It’s tough enough to go play the defending state champions. That means we have to be on the bus at 6:30 a.m., which is something I would have preferred to avoid."

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