Three’s company for set of ascending sophomores
Sophomore trio ready to make leap forward and provide a bigger impact in 2013
August 29, 2013, 6:26 pm · Updated August 29, 2013, 11:44 pm·
Zoe Gan | DP
From newbies to vets, three of Penn men’s soccer’s sophomores will have to show they’ve grown up if the Quakers hope to reverse Penn’s 0-6 start from a season ago.
All of the sophomore class on the Penn men’s soccer team has made great improvements from the start of their college careers a year ago.
Forrest Clancy, Griffin Heffner and Alex Murphy exemplify this transformation.
“I think the big thing we have to remember is that it is a process and they are one season into their college careers,” coach Rudy Fuller said. “We don’t want to be asking too much of them, but I can say all three of those guys … are much further along than they were at this time last year when they were coming in as freshmen.”
“Forrest was just starting to find his stride when he went down with an injury,” Fuller said.
For Clancy, who tore his ACL in a 5-3 loss to Villanova on Sept. 14, it was a long and winding road back to 100 percent. But he’s back now, even though he says his touch is “still a bit off.”
“Physically his knee is 100 percent,” Fuller said. “But from a soccer sense he is still getting back in the swing of things.”
Fellow sophomore Heffner had a very different freshman year.
“Griffin was not as fit as he needed to be when he came in as a freshman and it took him the better part of the first half of the season to get to where he needed to be fitness wise,” Fuller said. “Then he was immediately thrown in and given an opportunity which was important in his longer-term development.”
Because Heffner was thrown in prematurely, he acquired much valuable experience and has made some of the biggest strides on the team from last season.
But it was Murphy, free of injury and fitness issues, who played the most out of any freshmen last season, seeing time in 13 games off the bench.
“Alex [Murphy] is a soccer rat. He is a guy that every coach wants on his team because he just loves to play every day,” Fuller said.
This summer, Murphy was part of a Lehigh Valley United squad that won its first-ever U.S. Soccer Youth national title in July. Murphy played out of his normal center midfield position, playing defense instead.
“That to me says everything you need to know about Alex Murphy as a player,” Fuller said. “He will do whatever it takes to win a game.”
Clancy, Heffner and Murphy are sure to have a far greater impact on the 2013 Quakers.
“As a class we have more responsibility … we can tell that there is more weight on our shoulders,” Clancy said. “People show you more respect but you also owe more.”
“There is less room for error,” Murphy said. “If you make mistakes, it’s less acceptable because you have the playing time under your belt.”
The sophomores are not only playing together but living together.
“Because we start right in the fall, last year we didn’t really develop that team dynamic with everyone,” Heffner said. “And now that we have been through the whole spring season with everyone, we have a much stronger team dynamic where everyone understands each other’s roles,” Heffner said.
And as they eventually grow into grizzled veterans, this trio will go a long way towards determining whether Penn’s team dynamic is strong enough to flip the script in 2013.