Binghamton Men's Soccer Preview
Twelve months ago, little was expected from the Binghamton mens
soccer team. Coming off a 6-11-1 campaign in 2002, the Bearcats
had a roster with just seven upperclassmen and were picked to
finish eighth in the America East Conference. Binghamtons
modest goal was to make the six-team America East Conference
As Binghamton gets ready for the 2004 season, things could not
be more different. The Bearcats were the surprise team in the
nation last season, winning the America East Conference title
and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
As a result of last seasons success, Binghamton is the
favorite to repeat as conference champions and is ranked No.
22 in the nation in both the College Soccer News and the NSCAA/adidas
preseason polls. In short, the Bearcats have gone from being
the hunter to the hunted.
Being nationally-ranked in both preseason polls is helping
(people) to recognize all of our hard work and commitment,
head coach Paul Marco said. We are excited to start the
season and are working hard to finish the season still being
ranked in both polls.
To achieve that goal, Binghamtons challenge is to replace
four key leaders of last years squad with a new group of
promising players. In addition, the Bearcats must maintain the
same work ethic and level of desire as they had last season.
We had a competitive fire last season that we need to carry
over into this year, Marco said. Our seniors were
largely responsible for that and now we need new people to step
goalkeeper Stefan Gonet returns after a monumental 2003
season. He was named first-team America East all-conference and
was the Most Outstanding Player in the conference tournament.
He posted 16 shutouts and allowed a microscopic 0.38 goals against
average. Backing up Gonet are sophomore Ryan Bertoni and
redshirt sophomore Phil Grommet.
"We have been satisfied with the play of our goalkeepers
during preseason, Marco said. They know how to organize
the defense and have been able to anticipate shots before they
lost two starters on defense but have several newcomers ready
to step in and keep things going. Junior Graham Munro is
the top veteran in this group. Munro has been named first-team
America East all-conference the past two years and was named
the America East Conference Defender of the Year last season.
He was also named to the NSCAA All-New York Region team.
The other returning starter in the backfield is fellow junior
Darius Ravengard. Redshirt senior Mike Austin,
who missed all of last season but was one of the team leaders
in 2002, moves from the midfield to the back line. Juniors Joe
Howe and Ryan Pierce, both of whom transferred from
Herkimer CC, will be counted on to step in and contribute right
away. Junior Luc Vallone and sophomore Zach Kneeland,
both of whom have had excellent preseasons, could have more of
a role this season. Freshman Matthew Narode rounds out
"We will be different this season in the backfield,
Marco said. We will be more technical because we will be
able to possess the ball more. Last years group had a lot
of fire and we need the same from the backfield this season.
three all-conference players, Marco and his staff have reason
to feel confident about the midfield. Junior Danilo, who
was named second-team all-conference last season, and sophomore
Bryan Arnault, who was named to the all-rookie team, are
the top returning starters. In addition, redshirt sophomore Kyle
Antos, who was named to the 2002 all-rookie team, returns
healthy this season. Sophomore Mark Deemer also returns
Freshman Adam Chavez, a NSCAA high school All-America
from nearby Union-Endicott High School, should fit into the mix
right away. Sophomores Tom Fahl and Jesse Spiro are
the other newcomers. In addition, both Howe and Narode can play
in the midfield as well as on defense.
"We should be pretty good at midfield, Marco said.
We have four returners and Adam will give us a very strong
Bearcats have three proven scorers, including a pair of all-conference
players, returning at forward. Seniors Stephen Bruce and
Charles Darkwah, both of whom were named second-team all-conference
last season, return along with sophomore Joey Neilson.
Darkwah led the squad with seven goals and 15 total points. Bruce
and Neilson had five goals apiece. Freshmen Dan Rabinowitz,
who was an NSCAA high school All-American as a junior, and Pat
Jones, are the top newcomers.
"Having three targets up front is going to give other teams
trouble, Marco said. It creates a lot of opportunities
With only six home games this season, the Bearcats will have
to continue their success on the road. Last season, they lost
just once as the visiting team-against then No. 4 St. Louis in
the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
This year, Binghamton has a dangerous opener against Marist
on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. The Red Foxes handed the Bearcats
a last-minute 2-1 defeat in 2003.
Other non-conference games come against Canisius, Buffalo, Philadelphia,
St. Josephs and Niagara. Only the game against the Bonnies
will be at the West Gym Field.
In conference play, the Bearcats will travel to Boston, Vermont,
Maine and Northeastern. Home conference games come against Vermont,
Hartford, New Hampshire, UMBC and Stony Brook.