WYE MILLS – Last year, Mike Morse's biggest problem was getting enough players to fill his uniforms.
This season, the challenge for Chesapeake College's second-year head men's soccer coach is finding enough uniforms for all of his players.
"It's a good problem to have," admitted Morse, who has 19 players so far this season. "This time last year we were just trying to get enough players to field a team."
While happy to have 19 players, Morse is particularly pleased to have three experienced returners in goalie Luke Bevins and midfielders Shayne Ray and Billy Benton.
"Luke was probably as good a goalie as we saw last year. He kept us in a lot of games," said Morse. "Shayne was a quiet leader – very steady at midfield and a very hard worker. He played a lot of minutes for us last year because he had to.
"Billy has really improved," continued Morse. "He came to us last year with limited game experience, but he got better as the season went on and he worked hard in the offseason to improve his skills."
In addition to three key returners, Morse has a first-year class headed by three likely standouts. Midfielder Ian "Bubba" Miller (Gunston), forward Isaiah Horsey (North Caroline) and center midfielder Will DeConti (Kent County High via Washington College) all look to be impact players.
"Bubba is a really nice player who's going to help us a lot at midfield," said Morse. "DeConti – whose hometown is San Pablo, Brazil – has really good skills, good vision and a feel for the game.
"Isaiah looks like he's going to give us strong play on attack," continued Morse. "He has good speed. We didn't score a lot of goals last year, but I think we'll score a lot more this season."
Morse also highlighted service veteran Tomas Trevino as a player to watch.
"Tomas gives us another player with good speed and hustle up front," said Morse. "He has a lot of maturity and he works hard. We hope he'll be able to provide some additional leadership."
Morse credited word of mouth with leading to this year's strong turnout.
"I think the guys who played last year had a pretty good experience," said Morse. "We had a good time and I think our biggest recruiting tool was some of the guys going back to their high schools and talking about their experiences.
"My recruiting message was that we're trying to build something and it can be a positive experience for them," added Morse, who said some Athletic Department improvements also played a role.
"I appreciate the school's commitment to getting us a full-time trainer," said Morse, referring to Nick Williams, who brings both collegiate and professional training experience to his new role. "That's going to help the entire Athletic Department. The building (the recently opened $37 million Health Professions and Athletics Center) is a big plus. That's obviously going to attract some good players going forward. I think the program's going in the right direction."
The Skipjacks open their season Thursday with a 5 p.m. contest at Frederick Community College.