A couple of record-setting soccer careers are in full flight at East Tennessee State this fall.
On the men’s side, David Geno has already set new program marks for career goals (21), assists (13) and points (55). For the women, Ramey Kerns leads the nation in goals this season, with 15, and now holds the ETSU single-season records in that department and total points (33).
And both players are just juniors.
Geno is fulfilling the promise he showed as a freshman out of Dobyns-Bennett High School. He has surpassed the production of former teammate Aaron Schoenfeld, who is now playing professionally with the Columbus Crew of MLS.
“It’s been a great team effort,” Geno said Wednesday. “Everybody really worked hard over the summer and came in flying at the start of the season. The records are a good feeling because w Aaron was obviously a great player. He was a real mentor to me when he was here, really showed me the ropes. We text every once in awhile and try to stay in touch.”
Geno had a spectacular goal Tuesday night against 18th-ranked Wake Forest in which he twisted in mid-air and blasted the ball past an unsuspecting goalkeeper. (That moved him past Schoenfeld on the career list.) Later, with his team trailing and the clock about to run out, he lobbed a pass high toward the goal that teammate Emmanuel Wilson was able to handle and chip in for the tying score with three seconds left.
The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Asked which play he liked best,” Geno didn’t hesitate.
“Definitely the assist,” he said. “I guess at the time the goal was good because it gave us the lead. But the assist tied it up. That was a great goal by Emmanuel.”
Geno now leads the Atlantic Sun Conference with nine goals this season, and is fourth in assists, with five. He has also squeezed off 40 shots on goal – 12 more than anyone else.
It has been an equally special season for Kerns. The striker from Kings Mountain, N.C., was moved from the midfield after last season and has produced one goal after another.
She’s tied for the national lead with two other women – one from Furman and another from Georgetown – but has done it in fewer games. Kerns is also fourth in total points.
“I am surprised; I think everyone on the team is,” she said Wednesday. “I’m just very lucky right now because we have a great chemistry on the field. This team has a strong work ethic and winning attitude. We’ve had a few losses, but we always come back stronger.”
Kerns is breaking the decade-old records of Erin Ashton at ETSU, and she’s quick to give teammates much of the credit. Freshman Sarah Zadrazil, in particular, has been a playmaker and currently ranks seventh nationally in assists, with eight.
“It feels good to get the records,” said Kerns, “but it’s not necessarily my personal achievement. Those are team achievements.”
ETSU coach Adam Sayers says opponents have certainly picked up on Kerns’ stature as a scorer as the season has gone along.
“They definitely attempt to mark her more tightly – out on the pitch and in the 18-yard box, because that’s where she has scored most of her goals,” he said. “But her movement is so good and the accuracy of her finishes is so good, she continues to score.
“It’s not so much stopping Ramey as trying to stop the people creating opportunities for her. She has good players around her … Sarah is a fantastic talent in her own right.”
The Lady Bucs are 9-4 overall but 3-2 in the Atlantic Sun Conference and in a logjam of contenders. Five teams currently have one loss or less; North Florida, Mercer and Jacksonville are all unbeaten.
“Four points separate sixth from first,” said Sayers. “It’s very tight and congested, but a lot of these teams still have to play each other. A couple of weeks into conference play you could see it’s a better league than last year in terms of the quality of teams.”
The Lady Bucs won the regular-season championship in Sayers’ first season as coach but were knocked off in the tournament semifinals by sixth-seeded Mercer. The Lady Bears beat them again, 3-1, on Sept. 30 in Macon, Ga.
n The Summers-Taylor Stadium crowd of 804 at the men’s match Tuesday night was treated to another strong effort by the Bucs against a nationally ranked opponent.
They are now unbeaten in their last six such matches – three wins and three ties.
Geno appreciated the festive atmosphere, which even included an appearance by university president Brian Noland wearing the Bucky mascot outfit.
“It was a pretty awesome night,” said Geno. “It always helps to have a great turnout, and everybody was loud the whole way.
“We want to be up for every game, but every time we get to play one of these big teams, we get real excited. It’s a great opportunity, and we want to showcase how we play.”
The Bucs find themselves at 6-5-2 overall but 2-1-0 in conference, which is good for second place behind unbeaten Mercer. Their loss came at home against the Bears, who got two goals from Ehjayson Henry and won 2-1 on Sept. 30. Those are Henry’s only goals of the season.
ETSU plays at Lipscomb on Saturday.
The volleyball team has righted itself in conference by winning three of its last four matches.
At 4-3 (13-8 overall), the Bucs stand fourth in the A-Sun as they wrap up a five-match homestand this weekend. Jacksonville visits Brooks Gym on Friday night, and North Florida will be in on Saturday.
The league is being controlled by three-time defending champion Lipscomb and Florida Gulf Coast, both at 7-0. They tangle for the first time Friday night in Nashville.
n The cross country teams get their final tuneups before the conference meet Friday when they run in the Blue Ridge Open in Boone, N.C. It’s a 5K for the women and 8K for the men.
The ETSU men are ranked sixth in the South Region.
Florida Gulf Coast will host the A-Sun championships in Ft. Myers, Fla., on Oct. 27.