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The Penn men's soccer team is happy about having a problem -- more players than spots on its roster.

Losing only three seniors to graduation and returning 15 letterwinners from last year, the 2001 Quakers will also feature 13 members of the Class of 2005.

"I think there's going to be some young guys who dictate to us that they need to be on the field by their play," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. "I really would be surprised if we didn't have any freshmen in the starting lineup."

Fuller said this year's clan of freshmen is the most talented recruiting class he has had since arriving in 1998.

"We've got a great class coming in that is really going to push our returning players at each position on the field," Fuller said. "We certainly have made ourselves a significantly deeper team."

In looking for recruits, Fuller did not focus on specific positions, noting that the weaknesses of the 2000 Quakers were not on an individual level.

"I don't think there was any position in particular that we considered ourselves weak in, but I would say that our team defense was poor last year," Fuller said. "That really is alleviated by spots all over the field. We just had to be a team defensively, not necessarily just our defenders, but all over the field."

Headlining the large recruiting class are two central midfielders, Chris Fisher of Kennedy H.S. (Mahopac, N.Y.) and Steve Kroculick of Delran H.S. (Delran, N.J.), and a pair of forwards, Joe Klein of Marquette University H.S. (Brookfield, Wisc.) and David Maier of St. Ignatius Prep (Broadview Heights, Ohio).

"I think if I look at it, these four are the ones I would expect to come in and push right away," Fuller said. "But I think there's a couple of guys right behind them that will also see time."

Fisher played for the FC Westchester club team that won the 2000 National Championship. At Kennedy, the central midfielder led his team in scoring last season with 14 goals and four assists, earning All-League and All-Section honors.

"Chris Fisher is a special player," Fuller said. "He can do a lot of things very well, and can change a game on his own in one play."

Because of his all-around skill, Fuller can use Fisher virtually anywhere on the field.

"Chris has played in the central midfield for his club team," Fuller said. "But I could see him playing in the midfield or on our back line."

Kroculick is a member of the Region I Olympic Development Program team and the New Jersey ODP team. A member of the Mercer Warriors that won the New Jersey State title last year, Kroculick also scored 48 points in his senior year in high school en route to being named to the All-State team.

"Stephen is an out and out central midfielder," Fuller said. "He's very good going both ways in terms of attacking and defending, and I would look for him to push to get on the field right away."

Kroculick, who cites Fuller as being one of the primary reasons he chose Penn, feels he has a lot to bring to the men's soccer program.

"Hopefully I'll bring experience, because I've been on a great club team in the past years," Kroculick said. "I've been to Nationals, and been to regionals five or six times. I have a lot of experience in high-pressure games and situations."

Klein has also been successful on both the high school and club levels. A two-time first team All-State selection, Klein racked up 82 points in his final two seasons at Marquette University High School. He also helped lead his club team, Mequon United, to the state title last year.

Maier was dominant in high school, notching 87 goals and 33 assists for 207 points over his career. Ninety-nine of those points came in his senior season, at the end of which he was named a Parade magazine All-American, the Adidas Ohio State Player of the Year and Western Conference Player of the Year. He is also a Region II ODP and Ohio North ODP selection.

"Our two frontrunners that we're bringing in are Klein, who comes from a very good high school team and club team, and Maier," Fuller said.

Also spending his first year with Penn alongside the new recruits will be assistant coach Bob Butehorn.

Butehorn served as head coach at St. Bonaventure from 1995-1999.

"We were very fortunate to have a guy of his caliber join our staff," Fuller said. "Bob has a lot of experience, and I think that experience is going to pay dividends for us this year.

"Our team is really ready for a breakout year, and I think that having Bob on our staff is only going to increase our chances to do that."

The Quakers look to improve on last season's 6-10-1 record and hope that their current problem will yield a deeper, more successful team.

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