Release: February 15, 2009
"We have good balance this season," Stephenson said. "Competition for starting spots is very competitive at the attack position, so we may be able to move personnel to give us additional strength at the midfield. 90 percent of our defenders have played key roles in the past. We have solid leadership, and our team chemistry has been improving each week".
Rurey is in his first season as a team captain. He was an America East All-Rookie selection in 2007 and has been part of the squad's man-up offense. This season, however, he has emerged as one of the main attackers up front.
"Jeff Rurey has made remarkable strides and is right now arguably our best player out on the field (in terms of) leadership, stick skills, shooting and the ability to finish," Stephenson said. "He is a tremendous leader and his work ethic is unmatched. He has really become the leader of the attack unit."
Mazzoni, meanwhile, played behind several veterans the past two seasons but also moves into a key role this year.
"Adam came in two years ago with a unit ahead of him that had played together a lot," Stephenson said. "Right now, he is passing the ball exceptionally well and has improved his shooting. He has looked good all year, and will be a strong challenger for playing time."
Perelle and Springer, both of whom had impressive high school careers, rose to the top of the depth chart during the fall season. Perelle was a high school standout and a top performer at the 2008 Empire State Games (6th leading scorer), while Springer netted 79 goals in 2008 for Hamburg (N.Y.) and was the third leading scorer at the same Empire State Games.
"I think we have the most depth we have had at attack," Stephenson said. "We have had good players over the years but we have better depth this year."
The Bearcats enter the 2010 season with a top line of proven offensive fire power. Seniors Andy Cook and Steve Carlson were the top two scorers on the team last season, with 19 and 18 goals respectively. Junior Frank Donlon, meanwhile, added 10 goals.
"Andy, Steve, and Frank bring a lot of firepower and experience to the midfield," Stephenson said. "Because of the strong competition we have up front, we are able to put these guys at the midfield. Andy has played everywhere on the field for us and can excel at any position."
Senior captain Drew Wichmann and junior Mike Sciarrino also return at the midfield and according to Stephenson, should be among the top five in the depth chart. Defensively, junior David Raleigh and senior Chris Welch are the top returners.
and sophomore John
along with freshman Matt
will also look to make an impact at the midfield.
Last season, the Bearcat defense suffered some key injuries and as a result, had trouble making stops. This year, everyone is healthy and the experience gained by the younger players figures to help the defense improve substantially.
"We have made significant improvements on the defensive end," Stephenson said. "We had some injuries and had to rely on younger guys to fill the holes. We allowed more interior shots than we have in the past. This year's unit is much more experienced. We are much improved on the ground ball and clearing phases of the game, and we're continuing to improve on our chemistry. In addition to the fundamentals, we are concentrating on our communication, anticipation and team chemistry, which are the hallmarks of a great defense."
Senior captain Griffin McLoughlin and junior Derrick Danieu are the top two returning defenders. McLoughlin is a two-year starter and has been among the team's leaders in ground balls each season. Danieu, meanwhile, was named first-team all-conference and, along with McLoughlin, frequently covered the opposing team's top attacker.
"Griffin and Derrick give us a real good foundation for our defense," Stephenson said. "They each play a different style but both are just as effective."
Sophomore Ben Waldron, who was named to the America East All-Rookie team last season is the starting long pole middie. In addition, Stpehenson cites sophomore Ryan Button as being the squad's most improved defender. He and senior, Ben Watkins, are among the top four close defenders.
Since its inception as an intercollegiate program nine years ago, Binghamton has had outstanding leadership in goal. That is a tradition Stephenson expects to keep going this year.
"We have been blessed with great goaltending over the years," Stephenson said. "Based on what I saw in the fall and so far this spring, I see no reason why that won't continue."
Junior Dan Salazzo arrives from Herkimer Community College where he was a 2009 NJCAA second-team All-American his sophomore year. This season, he is currently the top goalie, in a highly competitive battle.
Sophomore Jordan Marra and freshman Kraig Heston are the other two goalies, who according to Stephenson, made vast improvements over the fall. "Kraig can perform at a very high level, and he's becoming more consistent every day. Jordan has very good quickness and plays a different style from the other two."
As has been the case in past years, the Bearcats will play a top-notch schedule. Nine of its 14 regular-season opponents, including UMBC, Stony Brook and Albany from the America East, are either ranked or receiving votes in the national preseason polls.
"We are very excited to once again play a very competitive schedule," Stephenson said. "The America East should once again be very strong and we play some of the top non-conference teams in the nation. We added two Patriot League opponents (Lehigh and Lafayette) to our schedule and 2009 NCAA tournament team, Siena, from the MAAC."
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