Schoenle ready to end WVU career on a high note
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:08
The West Virginia Men’s soccer team is heading into the 2012 season with a deluge of young, elite talent, but it will more than likely have to rely on the senior leadership from its most experienced returning players in order to accomplish their season goals.
Players like senior defender Eric Schoenle, who is both acknowledging and embracing the critical challenge as an influential senior, and who will be integral to the Mountaineers’ success in their inaugural season in the Mid-American Conference.
"Every year, I’m just looking to just become a better leader," Schoenle said. "The coaching staff has really been talking to me about organizing and making sure everyone does the little things right.
"It’s weird – it feels like just yesterday, I was a freshman."
The Yardley, Pa., native, who also happened to have the most decorated freshman season in school history, now leads a group of five WVU players ranked in the top-20 players in the MAC by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Schoenle, who is listed as the second-best player in the entire conference, according to the preseason report, was also named to the 2012 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Watch List Monday.
The Hermann Trophy is considered collegiate soccer’s most prestigious individual award.
"I’m honored to be selected as part of the Herman Trophy Watch List," Schoenle said. "To be selected among the top players in the country is a huge honor for me, and I’m very humbled to be a part of it."
Schoenle has started 58 matches, all at the center back position, for the Mountaineers during his collegiate career, including all 20 matches last season, accumulating nine points and three goals – good enough for second-team honors in the notoriously talented Big East Conference last season.
But it’s Schoenele’s stifling defensive talent at the center back position that has earned him the most regard among both his peers and MLS scouts.It was also the reason his head coach referred to him as "the best center back in America," following a win over the Virginia Cavaliers a year ago.
In addition, Schoenle was named a 2011 NSCAA third-team All-American and first-team All-Northeast region and spent a majority of his summer this year traveling across the country working out for an array of Major League Soccer clubs.
But despite all the notoriety, individual accolades and expectations to become a professional after the conclusion of his collegiate career, Schoenle is still eager to leave a more memorable mark at WVU as a senior.
"We know this is our last shot to really make our mark on West Virginia soccer history," Schoenle said. "So we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure people remember us."
One of the keys to success for Schoenle and the team in general in 2012, according to head coach Marlon LeBlanc, is the fact this year’s team is talented and deep enough that players like Hermann candidate Schoenle won’t be expected to carry the rest of the team, making him even more dangerous.
"He just needs to be himself," LeBlanc said. "We’re good enough that this team doesn’t need to do extra in order to make up for a lack in other places. I don’t want him bearing the load of somebody in front of him or somebody behind him.
"Eric’s got a job to do, and he knows what it is. He’s got to be a leader and a captain and a senior. He’s got to be as good as he can be on any given day; that’s all we really ask from him."