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Men's Soccer vs. Drexel. Men's soccer wins 2 - 0 home at Rhodes Field Credit: Michele Ozer , Michele Ozer

As old leaders depart, new ones arise. With Penn men’s soccer graduating five seniors, the team is looking for players to step up into that role.

Sophomore forward Alec Neumann — one of the Quakers’ top players — has been able to focus on his game, but as he becomes an upperclassman, he will try to add ‘leader’ to his impressive list of accomplishments at Penn.

As a freshman, Neumann logged five goals — tied for fifth in the Ivy League — and four assists. This season, his eight goals are second in the Ancient Eight, and his five assists rank third. He has been honored twice with Philadelphia Soccer Six awards with a Rookie of the Week in 2013 and Offensive Player of the Week in 2014.

“I like to play as a target center forward,” Neumann said. “My strength is back to goal, where I’m getting the ball in, playing it off, getting in front of goal and trying to score.”

What makes Neumann tick? He believes his preparation paves the way for his success on the field. He treats every practice like a game, with the goal of entering games with unmatched confidence.

Coach Rudy Fuller praised Neumann’s approach and dedication to the game.

“He does everything the right way,” Fuller said. “He trains like he plays, he puts in a proper effort each in every time.”

The next step for Neumann to become the leader for Penn men’s soccer and Fuller thinks he is up to the task.

“It would only be natural,” Fuller said. “He’s been a really important player for us for his first two years. He’s been through the Ivy schedule twice and knows what to do to be successful.”

While Neumann was neither a captain nor a senior leader on the team this year, he says he has taken on an articulate role on the field. Such a role will lighten the transition to being an older leader on the team.

“I try to be pretty vocal on the field, to direct traffic almost, to try to implement what we have seen in scout, what we’re trying to do that game, kind of keep everyone focused on that during the game,” Neumann said.

The sophomore forward knows that the team’s success hinges on empowering his teammates. He also understands the different personalities on the team and how to treat each of them most effectively.

“Everyone has something that makes them tick, and a leader’s trying to get that out of everybody,” Neumann said. “Some guys, you gotta get right on their back about something or [they] need more encouragement than others, but collectively, you just have to figure out what makes guys go.”

Neumann will miss this year’s senior class, including fellow forward and current captain Duke Lacroix, but is looking forward to playing with and mentoring younger players. At the same time, he still has a few things he wants to work on this offseason.

“I’d like to up my speed and agility, and focus on when the ball is at my feet and I’m taking players on,” Neumann said. “Duke does a really good job of that and that’s something I really want to pick up from his game, and I think it would make us pretty dangerous up top next year.”

With a new and improved Neumann leading the way, the Quakers could reclaim their spot at the top of the Ancient Eight.

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