Top prospect Expert ranks Wenger high on pro list

By on August 17, 2011

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor

As a soccer player at Warwick, Andrew Wenger earned every accolade imaginable.

Now that he’s at Duke University, nothing has changed.

In rankings listed on on Friday, Aug. 5, the Blue Devils’ junior defender was the number one prospect among underclassmen for professional soccer, according to college player expert Joe Mauceri.

UCLA sophomore midfielder Kelyn Rowe is second and Wenger’s Duke University teammate Sebastien Ibeagha, a sophomore defender/midfielder, is 18th.

In 2010, Wenger, a 2009 Warwick graduate, was selected to the NSCAA All-America First-Team and he was a Herrman Trophy semi-finalist.

Last Friday, College Soccer News released its 2011 pre-season All-America teams, and Wenger and Blue Devils’ junior goalkeeper James Belshaw both received First-Team recognition.

Earlier this week, when told of Wenger’s selection by Mauceri as the top pro prospect among underclassmen, Manheim Central head soccer coach Matt Schwartz wasn’t surprised.

Schwartz’s Barons played against Wenger and the Warriors in pre-season camps and the former Warwick star left a lasting impression.

“Andrew, when he would get the ball and turn, it seemed like he covered 15 yards in three steps,” Schwartz said. “And by the time you figured out what he was going to do, he was already 10 yards into his next move and you were still getting your bearings on what you thought he was going to do. When he would drive into that first dribble step, he covered so much ground. As a defender, if you weren’t already moving, you’re suddenly playing catch-up. And the problem was, you weren’t going to catch up.”

Listed at 6-0, 175 on the Blue Devils’ website, Wenger has good size. But Schwartz noted that the thing separating Wenger and others who attend good Division One programs is that their game is faster and cleaner.

“They’re a step quicker and when they settle the ball, it’s dead on their foot,” Schwartz said. “When they pass a ball, it’s to the target and not just the right player, it’s to the correct foot. They are good technically. When they take a shot, it’s going to be on target most of the time. Everything’s just cleaner and a little bit faster.”

According to Schwartz, another thing that made him great was he had the ability to make players around him a whole lot better.

“That’s not a characteristic of all great players,” Schwartz said. “He knew he was going to draw all kinds of attention and he’d draw all that attention and then he’d play it away. Now that meant there were that many fewer defenders dealing with that area of the field.”

Through his first two years at Duke, Wenger has started all of the team’s 41 matches, helping the Blue Devils advance to the NCAA Tournament’s second round in 2010 and the third round in the 2009 season.

Schwartz said one of the things that stood out to him about Wenger at the pre-season summer camps was his desire to constantly improve his game. F&M College’s Dan Wagner and his brother, Eastern University’s Mark Wagner, were among the college coaches who attended the camps.

“All great players have (weaknesses, but) they find ways to minimize them,” Schwartz said. “(Wenger) was getting accolades all over the place and it’s so easy for a kid to just kinda rest on that. But what really impressed me was he asked one of those college coaches to stay after one of the sessions and work extra with him and help him with one of those weak areas. He wasn’t too proud to say, ‘Look, this is an area where I’m weak. Can you help me with this?’ The kid continues to do that and not be too proud to ask for help in those weak areas and at the same time try to find ways to minimize when those show or be in situations where they could be exploited. Good grief, that kind of kid is going to go a long way.”

Mauceri will provide his views of the top college prospects to on a weekly basis over the course of the 2011 men’s soccer season. More WENGER, page B-6

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