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In just his second full recruiting season, men's soccer coach Rudy Fuller managed to lure another talented group of players to Penn.

This year's recruiting class consists of seven highly accomplished incoming freshmen as well as a junior transfer from Bucknell, and will put the Quakers in position to win some games if not vie for the Ivy League title.

"The area where we need the biggest improvement from last year is learning how to win games," Fuller said.

Last year, the Quakers sometimes started as many as seven freshmen.

That inexperience, Fuller felt, was the main reason the Red and Blue didn't win quite as many games as expected and also let a few close ones slip away.

This season, the Quakers are obviously more seasoned, as each member of last year's freshman class has a year of starting under his belt. Mix in some returning upperclassmen, two of which were All-Ivy honorable mentions, and you get a recipe for optimism.

So, where do the new guys fit in?

After last season's 4-11-2 record (0-6-1 Ivy), Fuller isn't all that anxious to give his new crop of freshmen too much playing time -- nor does he think he'll need to.

That's not to say the frosh won't contribute. They'll make practices more competitive and the Quakers a deeper team.

Fuller hopes that junior Bucknell transfer Sam Chamovitz, who led the Bison with 11 goals last season, will put up those kinds of numbers for the Quakers.

Penn was always Chamovitz's top choice and he jumped at the opportunity to transfer here when it arose. Fuller said that Chamovitz is a quick left-sided player "with a knack for putting the ball in the back of the net" and will either be a wide midfielder or a target player.

Louie Lazar is coming off of four successful years playing for Maryland's prestigious FC Potomac club team. Lazar's strength is his ball handling and because of his skills in tight spaces he could compete for playing time at midfield.

Nick Severini is a relatively experienced player, because of several summers during which he played for Argentinian club teams.

An area native, Severini has played for the FC Delco club, as well as some of the various state and local Olympic Development Programs. Because of his experience, Fuller is anxious to see how he will fit in at the midfield position.

Goalie Matt Haeffner will most likely be backing up Jeff Groeber. Groeber was groomed for this position for two years while backing up the talented Mike O'Connor.

Fuller called Brett Hershcenfeld, the lone West Coast recruit, "an extremely competitive player who can play anywhere on the field."

Ross Chanin, from East Brunswick N.J., is a flank midfielder, a position Coach Fuller actively sought, and is a viable candidate for a starting spot.

Andre Ilbawi is a defender put of Oak Brook IL played for a four-time state champion club team, while Mark Silverstein, a mid-fielder/forward from Great Falls, VA, is a member of the Virginia Olympic Development Team.

If it seems as though the team is now saturated with mid-fielders, that's because they were the best players available.

"Unfortunately we are not yet in a position to go out and recruit players for specific positions," Fuller said. "Right now our goal can only be to get the best players we can get and we feel we did a pretty good job doing it."

Fuller didn't get all the players he recruited of course, but he summed up his aggressive recruiting philosophy thusly, "if you are not losing players in recruiting battles, you aren't recruiting the right players."

In terms of wins and losses, last season left much to be desired and a lot of room for improvement. This year's Penn men's soccer team has leadership and a strong backbone around which to build for the next few years.

Fuller said he has never been this optimistic about an approaching season. In a stellar year for Ivy League soccer, three teams, Princeton, Brown and Yale all made it into the NCAA tournament last year, which means that Fuller's biggest recruiting tool is the future.

"This is a team that can do things this year in the thick of the Ivy competition which was enough to qualify for the tournament last year with its major players sticking together for the next two or three years," Fuller said.

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