Immediate Release: August 23, 2005
Contact: David O'Brian (email@example.com)
2005 Binghamton University Men's Soccer Preview
The Binghamton men's soccer team enters the 2005 season determined to recapture the America East Conference championship that they lost in heartbreaking fashion last year. Up 2-1 with seven minutes to go against Boston in last season's conference finals, the Bearcats appeared ready to retain their crown. The Terriers, however, got a late goal and went on to win the decisive penalty kick round. Binghamton's season was suddenly over.
Against the backdrop of that devastating loss, the Bearcats regroup this season. 18 letterwinners, including seven starters, return from the 2004 squad. In addition, Binghamton substantially upgraded its non-conference schedule with the goal of increasing its RPI ranking as well as being battle-tested by the time the conference schedule begins in late September.
"Every year we want to be in position to win the conference championship," head coach Paul Marco said. "This year's team has the potential to play deep into the postseason. How hard we work and how smart we are will go a long way towards determining our success in November."
Another reason for Marco's confidence is the outstanding group of newcomers on this year's squad. Unlike past seasons, however, the Bearcats have the depth and experience so that they won't be called upon to produce right off the bat. Still, the potential is there to see a few new players emerge as starters by the end of the year.
"The first two seasons I was here (2002 and 2003), our new guys had to come through right away because we had no depth," Marco said. "This class is very good but we have a lot of very good veterans that have proven themselves. Eventually, three or four of the new guys could be starting at some point this year."
The Bearcats lost Stefan Gonet during the offseason but juniors Ryan Bertoni and Phil Grommet both return. Bertoni is slated to take over the starting job, having been the number one goalkeeper during the spring.
"Ryan had a pretty good spring," Marco said. "He is very fast and is a great shot stopper. This season, we are looking for him to further improve his decision making and to organize the defense."
Grommet has been an invaluable part of the team and despite being the number two goalkeeper, is seen as one of the team's leaders.
"No one thought Phil would improve as much as he has," Marco said. "He has worked very hard and has become one of our team leaders on and off the field."
Freshman Jason Stenta, who concluded an outstanding career, at nearby Chenango Valley High School, is the top newcomer.
The strength of Binghamton the past two seasons has been its backline and with all four starters returning, it should once again be among the best in the region. Senior Graham Munro, the two-time America East Conference Player of the Year and a 2004 first-team All-New York Region pick, returns for his final season. Despite all of the accolades that have come Munro's way, Marco still sees way in which he can improve even more.
"Graham is one of the most competitive guys I have ever been around," Marco said. "He is our leader at the heart of the defense. His understanding of the game has improved and he will continue to become an even better tactical player."
Fellow seniors Darius Ravangard and Ryan Pierce as well as sophomore Adam Chavez are the other returning starters in the backfield. Sophomore Matt Narode and freshman Tony Tellez enter preseason as the top reserves.
"I am glad to be working with this group," Marco said. "They have a competitive hunger not to conceed goals. This year, we are looking to add a few more dimensions to their defending."
While our defending has been outstanding over the last two years, the Bearcat midfield line made big strides in 2004. With three proven veterans returning, Marco and his staff have reason to feel confident about this group.
Senior Danilo, who was named first-team all-conference and all-region in 2004, is the top returnee. This past summer, he played for the Premier Development League Champions Des Moines Menace and went up against professional squads.
"Danilo is our workhorse," Marco said. "He has always been good in the defensive midfield but this season, we'd like him to also become a link in scoring goals."
One midfielder who has found the back of the net on a consistent basis is junior Bryan Arnault. Last season, he finished second on the team with nine goals and 22 total points.
"Bryan has been working very hard this summer," Marco said. "He can play at either the forward or midfield positions and should have another good year."
After missing all of 2003 with an injury, junior Kyle Antos bounced back in a big way last season. He finished the season with a career-high four goals and tied a career high with three assists.
"We are expecting a lot from Kyle this season," Marco said. "He brings tremendous energy and leadership to our team. He has been great in helping to develop the younger players."
The leading candidate to step into the fourth midfield position is freshman Barry Neville, who arrives from Scotland.
"Barry is a technically gifted player and a good passer," Marco said. "He should fit well into our midfield."
Narode is also capable of moving into a midfield slot. The top newcomers
at this position are freshman Tony Tellez and junior Ibrahim Yusif.
The forward line took the biggest hit for Binghamton during the offseason, with Charles Darkwah and Stephen Bruce having graduated. Junior Joey Neilson, who has scored nine goals and added nine assists during his first two seasons, is the top returner.
"The potential is definitely there for Joey to be our biggest scorer up front," Marco said. "It's time for him to step up and assume the leadership in that position. He has had some very big goals for us the past two years and he is good enough to lead us back to the NCAA Tournament."
Tranferring from Albany is junior Peter Sgueglia, who led the Great Danes last season with six goals.
"Peter is a very good pick up for us," Marco said. "He and Joey could form a very dangerous partnership up front.
Seeking to rebound from a medical redshirt season is freshman Dan Rabinowitz. An NSCAA High School All-American his junior season, he has the potential to add to the Bearcats' attack up front.
"Dan has worked very hard this past year," Marco said. "He will definitely help us up front."
Senior Luc Vallone and freshman Cody Germain could also factor into the forward line.
Binghamton opens the regular season with an appearance at the Coastal Carolina/adidas Invitational. The Bearcats face Furman on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 5 p.m. and play the host school on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. Coastal Carolina won the Big South Conference title last season and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Furman's last appearance in the NCAA Tournament came in 2002, when it advanced to the third round.
The Bearcats also have road games against a pair of teams that finished second in their respective conferences in 2004. On Sept. 14 at 7 p.m., Binghamton faces a Hartwick squad that finished second to Florida International in the Atlantic Soccer Conference. On Sept. 17 at 7 p.m., the Bearcats square off against a Lehigh squad that lost the Patriot League finals to American University last year. Binghamton will also take part in the St. Bonaventure Invitational Sept. 10-11. The Bearcats face Duquesne on Saturday, Sept. 10 at noon and take on the host Bonnies on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 2:30 p.m.
"This is the most challenging non-conference schedule we have had since I have been here," head coach Paul Marco said. "With these two tournaments as well as Hartwick and Lehigh, we should be very well prepared heading into the (America East) conference part of our schedule. We are especially delighted to add Hartwick on our schedule because the schools are just 45 minutes apart."
Defending champion Boston returns as the favorite to win the conference championship. Along with Binghamton, teams such as Stony Brook, UMBC and Vermont are also teams that have a shot at doing some damage in the conference tournament.
"Boston is a deserving champion," Marco said. "They brought in a good recruiting class and are definitely the team to beat. The conference as a whole continues to get better each year. This season, there are a lot of other good such as Stony Brook, Vermont and UMBC. Hartford got a new coach and Albany had a great season last year. Our goal is to gain confidence during the tough first part of our schedule so that when October comes, we will be ready to face these teams."
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