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Defense holds key at EMCC

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
August 23, 2003
SCOOBA The East Mississippi Community College men's soccer team is building from the back out.
The Lions will field an inexperienced squad in 2003, except for goaltender David Hawthorne.
EMCC's sophomore netminder played six years in England before arriving on the campus' pitch, and he has been very busy in net ever since.
"We have a really strong keeper," said Lions head coach Brian Bennett. "He got a lot of shots taken on him last year. He is pretty good."
The Lions will put a slightly different squad in front of their goaltender from across the pond.
While the players may not be as experienced as Hawthorne, the team does have a few legs up on last season's squad.
"We have a very athletic team," Bennett said. "We have more endurance this year."
EMCC will be searching for new playmakers on the field.
The Lions lost stopper Matthew Tanner and midfielder Chris Wilkens from last year's squad that went 2-14.
"Our stopper was really good, and Chris Wilkens was probably our best player last year," Bennett said. "The magic question is how we are going to replace them."
Bennett said he knows victories will be hard to come by in the conference again this season.
"It's going to be tough," Bennett said. "The South division is very strong. Meridian, Pearl River, East Central and Gulf Coast could all win the South. In the North, Itawamba and Holmes have both improved."
The Lions do get a little help in their search for wins thanks to a friendly schedule.
Eleven of the team's 18 games will be played at home, with the first five matches on EMCC's campus.
"We play at home a lot this year," Bennett said. "Being in front of the home crowd always helps."
Despite being relatively raw and in need of playmakers on the field, the Lions are not hanging their heads low.
EMCC began preparations for the season on Aug. 11, and the team is ready to start a new season.
"The team's attitude is very good," Bennett said. "They are very enthusiastic, and they know it is a whole new season."
The Lions kickoff their 2003 season against Jones County Junior College at 1 p.m. today at home.