Release: August 5, 2008
"Every year, when we return in the fall we begin by sharing ideas and setting our season goals, we then set the wheels in motion as to how we need to approach the season," head coach Paul Marco said. "This year, we have a large returning group and a large senior class, so those wheels were already in motion in the spring."
Strong goalkeeping has been a staple of the Paul Marco era and for the past two seasons, junior Jason Stenta has upheld that tradition. He has recorded 20 shutouts and has been ranked nationally the past two years in terms of his goals against average.
"Jason has grown tremendously each season," Marco said. "He is a good shot stopper, leader and organizer of the defense. This year as an upperclassman, we are looking for him to improve in all those areas. We expect him to have another fine year."
Redshirt freshman David Grad and freshman Brian Abernathy give the Bearcats a quality group between the pipes.
"We have two very good keepers behind Jason," Marco said. "David has improved tremendously throughout the spring and Brian already has the size and strength for the college game."
Another significant strength of the Bearcats has been their solid defense. The Bearcats led the America East and ranked ninth in the nation last year with a 0.59 goals against average. With three returning starters, the pieces are in place to continue that tradition.
"We have strong returning group on defense," Marco said. "They have set high goals this year. Once we get into preseason, we'll have a better idea just how could we could be.
Adam Chavez, the 2007 America East Conference Defender of the Year graduated last spring. In sophomore Kyle Manscuck, however, the Bearcats have a player ready to step in and fill the void. After earning America East All-Rookie honors in 2007, Manscuck is expected to have an increased impact this year.
"Kyle has moved into (Adam's) position," Marco said. "He is going to be a fine center back for us through the course of his career. We were very pleased with his growth through the year and in the spring. He played key moments for us as a freshman and is ready to assume a more permanent role."
Senior Liam Carson, a two-year starter, is expected to increase his role not just in the backfield but also as a leader.
"Liam is going to be a key player for us this year," Marco said. "We need to see him be the force that drives our team. From all indications, he has prepared himself well this summer and will be able to assume that role."
Senior Mark Wood and junior Kyle Kucharski are Binghamton's other returning starters. Sophomores Yusuf Yusuf and Josh Sailar both showed significant improvement during the spring season and freshmen Brandon Fried and Austin Hughes are the top newcomers.
Binghamton returns all but one player in the midfield and added a pair of significant recruits. Great things are expected from the group this season.
"We have a very good group of returning midfielders," Marco said. "They have all improved since last season and can play at several different positions."
After playing two seasons in the backfield, senior captain Barry Neville moved to central midfield last season and earned first-team all-conference honors. He also continues to emerge as a quality captain.
"Barry has grown each year with the responsibility to pull the team in the right direction," Marco said. "He has done a lot to help our program."
Senior Justin Leskow, who ranked second on the squad in scoring, enjoyed a breakout year in 2007.
"Justin's growth in the game last year was tremendous," Marco said. "I think he is going to have a fantastic year for us. He is mentally ready, sharp and very fit."
Four other seniors returning in the midfield are Darren McAllister, Cody Germain, Ryan Tomko and Pablo Trillo. Last season, the quartet netted three game-winning goals between them.
Juniors Chris Terry and Brendan McGovern as well as sophomore Scott Zobre also return and have continued to show improvement each season.
Although the midfield is loaded with veterans, freshmen Ryan Walter and Cameron Wylie are two newcomers capable of making a smooth transition to the college game.
"Ryan and Cameron both have the ability to come in help us this year," Marco said. "Once those two get a handle on the speed and the pace of the college game, they will be able to contribute for us."
Freshman Joel Collins, who played locally at Johnson City High School, also starts his first year.
Junior Cameron Keith, the America East Striker of the Year and first-team All-Region selection, returns up front with a year of NCAA experience under his belt. He will continue to pace a Bearcat attack that led the conference with 1.32 goals per game.
"Cameron has a better understanding of Division I soccer," head coach Paul Marco says. "He has improved his ability to cover ground and that will help him create more opportunities for us."
Germain, Leskow and Tomko are all capable of making an impact at forward as well as in the midfield. Redshirt freshman Matt Ryan also appears ready to make his mark.
Freshmen Matt Kristek and Andy Tiedt arrive at Binghamton following tremendous high school careers. Kristek led nearby Vestal to the New York State title and was named an NSCAA High School All-American. Tiedt, meanwhile, scored a state-record 62 goals for Akron (N.Y.) High School.
"With Andy and Matt, I think we get two incoming players who have shown they can change a game in a moment by scoring goals. Each of them brings different, but equally important qualities to our team."
Binghamton opens up play with three consecutive in-season tournaments, starting Aug. 29 against Duquense at the West Virginia Tournament. Following home games against Bucknell and Hartwick, the Bearcats close out non-conference play at Cornell and national power Maryland. America East play starts Oct. 8.
The standard of excellence remains the same for Binghamton but this year's team hopes to raise the bar in terms of what it is remembered for.
"I think the players have an expectation to improve upon last year's performance and last year we were pretty good," Marco said. "I think that this year, if you ask our team what they would like to be remembered by, it would be summed up by being great in 2008."
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