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Cougar men return with much experience

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Last season, the Cougars' second year of existence, the University of Minnesota, Morris men's soccer team won the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference post-season title. The Cougars finished 2007 with a 15-4-2 overall record and were 8-4-2 in the UMAC.

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As a team the Cougars were first in the UMAC in shots; second in goals per game and shut outs; and third in total goals.

The Cougars scored 54 goals in 2007, compared to 18 in their first season (2006). They only allowed 16 goals last season, after allowing 35 in 2006.

Four first-team, all-conference members from 2007 return this season. Junior Patrick O'Connor led the team in scoring with 11 goals and 36 points. Junior Brent Diggs was third with nine goals and 28 points. Sophomore Mattson Towley was second with 12 goals and 31 points.

Junior Dana Veth also returns this season.

Junior Justin O'Connor and and sophomore Tyler Simpson both earned honorable mention awards in 2007.

Coach Christian DeVries said the Cougars are returning 10 of 11 starters.

Donnie Hicks, a starter from the 2006 season, is returning after a year of studying abroad.

New to the team, but bringing experience on the field, is Kelsey Duerr, a MIAC all-conference transfer from Augsburg.

DeVries said a strong freshman class rounds out the team.

"I am excited about the 2008 season and making a run at the UMAC championship and defending our UMAC tournament title."

The team just returned from a trip to Brazil, where the Cougars completed two weeks of training and played four games. They are the first American team to win a preliminary game in Natal, Brazil.

"We are in mid-season playing shape and form," he said.

DeVries said the UMAC becoming an official member of the NCAA Division III family will be a help to him when it comes to recruiting.

He added that UMM is the only public, four-year college in Minnesota with a men's soccer program.

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