The UNC Charlotte men's soccer team is looking to continue the tradition of winning they have built the last few years.
The 49ers have won at least 11 games in each of the previous four seasons and last year won the most games since 1996.
Charlotte finished 8-1 in the conference and 13-5-1 overall, and has a talented, veteran team that returns 14 juniors and seniors.
One underclassmen looking to make his mark is redshirt sophomore midfielder/forward Jeremy Dennis, a 2009 Vance graduate. Dennis is ready to get on the field and feels sitting out last year will work to his advantage.
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"I think it will be very helpful for me," said Dennis. "Last year was a great chance for me to sit back and learn while I adjusted to college. We are heavy at the top at the positions that I play, so it seemed it would be best to acclimate myself to college first and give me a chance to develop."
Dennis has had no problem adjusting to college courses. Each of his first two semesters, he earned a 4.0 GPA studying finance, and plans on becoming an investment banker after his soccer career is over.
A member of the National Honor Society and National French Honor Society in high school, Dennis was the 2009 valedictorian at Vance.
The academics are in place. Now he is ready to contribute on the field and should have a great shot at cracking the 49er rotation. This summer he is taking off from school and working out with his teammates.
"I am looking forward to getting out on the field and contributing," said Dennis. "We have been running through some captains practices so far and going through some drills. I am ready to start playing and I look forward to contributing."
Last year was the first time that Dennis has had to sit and watch from the sidelines. He has always been a team leader and been one of the best players on his teams. Now, he is adjusting to college soccer and is anxious to get back to playing.
As a sophomore, Dennis was named one of the Cougars captains, an honor rarely given to underclassmen. He was a four-time all-conference selection, a two-time all-region performer and in 2009 he was all-state and named the Observer Player of the Year.
Along with his brother, Cory, the Dennis' led Vance to their first winning season in four years in 2009. Cory led them to another winning year last season and now the two will team up in college to lead the 49ers.
"It is really cool having Cory here with me," Dennis said. "I have been here and will be able to show him the ropes a little. I am already really comfortable here, but it makes it easier knowing that we can compete together and push each other."
Dennis said he did not weigh in on Cory's decision, but sees why he would choose to play for the 49ers.
"I was thinking that I didn't want to stay so close to home, but once I came here and saw the campus and met the coaches and my teammates, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. I think the same thing happened to Cory," Dennis said.
Dennis says he and his brother are expecting to compete for playing time and are looking forward to starting official practices.
"Getting ready for the season is a lot of work, but it is so much fun being out here with the guys on the team," Dennis said. "The whole team is like one group, we stick close together and have bonded. It is worth all the work to be a part of this."
The 49ers kick off the season Aug. 27 at Coastal Carolina.
Dennis hopes to crack the lineup and contribute this season. Cory is hoping to do the same and adjust to college life.
"Not playing was an adjustment for me, but it gave me a chance to get organized. I am ready to get out there and play this year," Dennis said.