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Brandt Recaps Successful Spring Season For the Midshipmen

Thomas Shiiba led Navy with two goals during the spring season as six other Mids scored a goal each.

Thomas Shiiba led Navy with two goals during the spring season as six other Mids scored a goal each.

May 6, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Navy men's soccer head coach Dave Brandt sat down with NavySports.com to discuss the spring season that concluded recently. Brandt also gives a glimpse into the 2013 season that will kick off in August.

The Midshipmen compiled a 2-2-1 overall record during the spring with victories over 2012 NCAA Tournament participants VCU (1-0) and Ivy League champion Cornell (3-2) while tying the Harrisburg City Islanders (2-2), a professional team in the USL Professional Division. Navy's losses came to national powers West Virginia (3-2) and 2012 Big Ten Champion Penn State (2-0).

Navy scored eight goals coming from seven different players during the spring season. Rising sophomore Thomas Shiiba (Swarthmore, Pa.) led the Midshipmen with goals against West Virginia and Cornell. Navy's other goal scorers were rising junior Geoff Fries (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and rising senior Patrick Sopko (Gloucester, Va.) against the Harrisburg City Islanders, rising sophomore Jamie Dubyoski (Catonsville, Md.) against VCU, rising senior Dave Arnold (Baltimore, Md.) against West Virginia and rising senior Martin Sanchez (Salisbury, Md.) and rising junior Joseph Greenspan (Westfield, N.J.) against Cornell.

The Midshipmen will release their fall schedule at a later date.

NavySports.com: How do you feel the spring season went in general, and what do you think the team did well and what were some areas that needed improvement?
Brandt: I think we are at kind of a specific spot in what we are trying to do here. It was a really good spring for us. I think the big positive was that it is as well as we have played since I have been here. I think the team is really on the edge of playing extremely well. We played five teams that were all "better than us" with four NCAA Tournament teams and a pro team and really outplayed every single one of them. I think the negative, if you want to look at it that way, is that we have a little bit of .500 disease. We were 7-7-3 last fall, 7-7-5 the fall before that and 2-2-1 this spring. We would have liked to have come out 5-0-0, which honestly was possible because I think we played that well. That being said, I think that the wall is going to topple pretty soon because we are a good team that can play and that sort of thing works itself out.

NavySports.com: You really ramped up the spring schedule this year. How does that benefit the team and what do you learn about your squad playing these kinds of challenges?
Brandt: I think you have to be a bit careful doing that. It's great to play the big programs who have a lot of talent. If you aren't ready for it, it can turn on you and become a frustration. My sense at this point in the process is that it was exactly what we needed. We are ready. I think one of the big things we learned this spring is that we can not only play with some of these guys, because that is one level of confidence, but that we can beat these guys, which is another level of confidence. I think that is maybe the biggest thing our team learned this spring. In all of the games this spring, there was no doubt our guys walked away thinking, "Yeah, there's no question we can play with these guys, that's a given. But we can beat these guys." So, I think that's the big positive to come out of the spring.

NavySports.com: Looking back now, what is the strength of the team after the spring season?
Brandt: I think the strength is that we have been scoring a lot of goals. We have guys that can score. I think we are a very proficient attacking team. I think we are deep and have a lot of guys that can play. We are a couple of years into recruiting the types of players we want and we've got a lot of guys that can play that way and play our style.

NavySports.com: Any individuals that really stepped up their games this spring?
Brandt: Honestly, a lot of guys had really good spring seasons. We got Derek Vogel (Rising So. / Long Beach, Calif.), our center back, healthy again. He literally had not been healthy since October 1, and either played hurt or didn't play at all and it took him a little bit of time into the spring to get healthy. By the time we played games in late March and April, he was healthy and he stayed healthy and that is a good sign for us. Thomas Shiiba and Jamie Dubyoski were freshmen that had exceptional springs. Grant Valenstein (Rising Jr. / Laguna Hills, Calif.) is an attacking midfielder that really cemented his place and came into his own this spring. Those are just some of the guys, but again, I think a number of players had really strong spring campaigns.

NavySports.com: How important are these next four months in the offseason for this program? It seems a lot of pieces are there to have a strong fall season.
Brandt: Our guys have to do a great job of handling their professional and military duties along with getting ready mentally and physically for the season. We place a big, big emphasis on fitness and I expect our guys to come into August extremely fit and at a very high level. With it being summer and with them being scattered around with a lot of different responsibilities, they have to be able to do a good job with that. I think the team is poised and ready and it boils down to getting ready physically, mentally and emotionally.

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