Coming off sub-par seasons for the Georgia Military College soccer teams last fall, the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs look to make their mark on the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) this year beginning with tough opening contests against top-ranked opponents Friday, Aug. 23 at home.
In his first two seasons at the helm, head coach Kerem Daser led the Bulldogs to record-breaking seasons that ended with post-season play from at least one of the two teams. After struggling last year, Daser expects to re-establish GMC as one of the top schools in the GCAA and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
“I made a decision to go and chase after players from the south,” he said. “These players are very committed and worked very hard. I think we have a chance to make the conference tournament.”
On the women’s side, GMC brings back five top-level returners from last season, including three local talents in former John Milledge Academy players Jessica Qualls and Maggie Morris, as well as Cayla Brantley from Baldwin High.
“All three are Milledgeville products and work hard,” Daser said. “All have potential to play a lot for us this year. I’m looking for all three to be starters for us.”
Daser will also key off of another Central Georgia player in Ashley Hassett, of Morgan County High, on offense this year.
“She made our team in the spring and I think she can score goals,” he said. “We’re looking for her to be an impact player for us.”
Another strong returner for the Lady Bulldogs is Jona Olafsdottir, of Iceland, who Daser believes has the potential to earn All-Conference honors this season.
“I think she’s one of the best players we’ve had at GMC,” he said. “She had a great spring, and I think she has potential to be an all-conference player.”
Molding a strong line-up for the upcoming season, Daser expresses the number one goal is to earn a spot in the conference tournament and be a contender.
“I think in the spring, we had a pretty good group up here that were pretty committed. I think we’ll be good,” he said. “Trying to make the conference tournament is our goal. We’re trying to get into the next group.”
Coming off a 2-10 season last year, the men approach the fall with hopes of regaining their spot as one of the top teams in the GCAA.
GMC will be led by five sophomores, including Central Georgia talent Taylor Dell, of Mary Persons High.
“He had a good freshman year and we’re looking for better sophomore year from him,” Daser said.
Other returners include Eduardo Castro, of Howard High, Cameron O’Connor, of Johns Creek High and Lamin Singhateh, of Gambia.
GMC’s 2012 All-Conference and All-South honoree, Tomide Adabale, also returns with high expectations.
“He needs to be down to earth and be a team player,” Daser said. “He’s got great speed and great technical ability.”
With minor adjustments left to be made for the 2013 roster, Daser is excited to have primarily Georgia talent on the men’s team this year.
“I think I’ve been successful with Georgia talent. If you look at the men, we have one international player but the rest are all from Georgia,” he said. “Overall, I think we had a small group that was training in the spring, so over half the team will be brand new. Just trying to bring everyone together is going to be important.”
The men’s and women’s teams will kick the season off Monday, July 29 with a four-day local soccer camp open to all ages at the GMC soccer complex.
“We want to make soccer in Milledgeville better at the club level and the rec. level,” Daser said. “I’d like to develop the homegrown talent. We’ve got to teach the right things at a young age.”
For more info on the camp, contact Daser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GMC will jump into action on Aug. 23 at the Baldwin County Recreation Department’s soccer complex, with the women taking the field at 5 p.m. against Gordon College and the men immediately following against Georgia Gwinnett College.