VandyMania: Coach, you're beginning your third season at Vanderbilt. You came here from Southern Methodist, correct?
Vanderbilt men's soccer coach Tim McClements: That's right. I actually arrived here 12 days before preseason started two years ago.
VM: Could you talk about some of the things fans will want to watch for in men's soccer this season, and some of the players whose names fans will want to remember? Also, a little bit of a prospectus for the coming season.
Coach McClements: We're a very young team. Last year we had 14 freshmen, so this year we have 13 sophomores coming back. They have really done an outstanding job. We went through last season starting anywhere from seven to nine freshmen every game. They gained a lot of experience as a young team. This year, we are bringing in one of the top 30 recruiting classes in the country. We're really excited about our new players that we've brought in. All those kids that were freshmen last year now are sophomores, thank goodness! They all have a year under their belts. We have also had two transfers that came in that I think will make an impact. We have a lot more talent-- it's just a matter of putting it together.
Make no mistake, we are still a young team though. It will be a team made up of freshmen and sophomores. But I think we are definitely headed in the right direction.
VM: Football, of course, is very popular in the South. Probably a lot of Vanderbilt fans haven't discovered how much fun college soccer can be, and what a high level of competition your men play at in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Coach McClements: Right. You have a great opportunity to see some of the top teams in the country come to Nashville to play. This year we play SMU on the road, but they come to town every other year now. Also Creighton, Tulsa, and two years ago we had Loyola-Marymount, and last year Davidson. So it's a great opportunity and a great environment to watch quality soccer. But really, some of our players are starting to make a mark for themselves too. J.P. Moreland and Jamie Gilbert were freshmen last year, and both of them made the MVC All-Freshman team. They're looking to have a good, strong sophomore campaign. Joe Germanese is a freshman who was the St. Louis Player of the Year last year, along with Jerry Yirenkyi. Jason Le is an outstanding player who joined us from the San Diego area; unfortunately he blew out his ACL, so he'll redshirt this year. Josh Fallin is a quality player who played for the ODP national championship team in North Texas. So I think we have good leadership from our junior and senior classes, and we have some good quality players who are very young. We're building from the bottom, but the foundation has been laid by the players that were here. Every year we just try to add a few more, and we feel like we've been making strong headway.
VM: You've been in Nashville for two years now... how's that transition been for you?
Coach McClements: We love it. We loved Dallas and SMU... my first year there we went to the NCAA Final Four, and my second year there we were ranked No. 1 in the nation the whole year. So it's difficult not to like the environment there, and SMU's a great school. But Nashville is so much more our pace. We enjoy the people. It's been a great move.
What: Vanderbilt men's soccer at Belmont
When: Wednesday, Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.