Previewing the 2011 Men's Soccer Campaign; Mavericks Look to Build Upon Strong 2010 Season
Head Coach Chris Smith begins his second season at the helm guiding the Mavericks into a pre-season filled with anticipation and excitement. The team is coming off a competitive final record of 6-7-4 in 2010 compared to being 4-26-1 combined in 2008 and 2009. The team hopes to continue to build something special in 2011 with a seasoned returning group and an accomplished incoming recruiting class for a total of 28 student-athletes. The group will be captained again by graduate student Ben Latchford (Birmingham, England) and senior Keith Dillon (Dublin, Ireland), as well as senior Bujar Lajqi (Bronx, N.Y.), who is a captain for the first time. Filling out the rest of the senior class is: Collin Legge (Schodack, N.Y.), Mark Guerrero (East Meadow, N.Y.), Martin Walsh (Dublin, Ireland) and Lamine Seck (Bronx, N.Y.). Expectations are high as the coaching staff put together a group that will be more technical, tactical and fit. After a successful spring campaign and an intensive pre-season with the new players, the 2011 Mavericks will aim to surpass double digit wins, reach the ECC playoffs and have an opportunity to compete for the Conference Championship.
Defensively, the Mavericks have an open competition in goal between Walsh and junior college transfer Nick Papas (Castleton, N.Y.). Both bring different styles of play and both have an opportunity to lead the group between the pipes. On the backline, Dillon will anchor the defense after starting every game in 2010. His leadership, poise and tactical awareness will look to improve the Mavericks' goals against average in 2011. Potential starting centerbacks include returning senior Lajqi, incoming junior college transfer, Manuel Paulino (Barranquilla, Colombia) and senior transfer Seck. "So far Bujar has had a very good pre-season and can play almost every position on the field. Paulino has demonstrated tremendous athletic ability and communication. Seck's maturity, experience and ball handling has been impressive to this point," Coach Smith said. At outside back, Legge returns after garnering ECC All-Conference Second Team honors in 2010. He led the Mavericks in scoring with five goals and five assists, while logging most of his minutes at left back. Tafari Newman (Bronx, N.Y.), after redshirting 2010, has been the leading candidate for the right back spot and has showed great improvement in all aspects of the game. Other potential backs include junior Alex Redmond (Irvington, N.Y.), who saw action last year in 15 games and started in two of them, redshirt freshman Thualfekar Alobeidy (Baghdad, Iraq) and transfer student with four years eligibility, Rechmial Wallace (Brooklyn, N.Y.).
In the midfield, the 2011 squad has many options and should be the strength of the team. Returning junior defensive midfielder Moustapha Dioum (Harlem, N.Y.) was named to the ECC All-Conference Second Team in 2010. He is a pre-season East Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year nominee who will look to solidify the center of the field. At attacking center midfield is a close competition between two junior college transfers, Mubarak Sani (Bronx, N.Y.) and William Koki (Aurora, Colo.) and freshman Daniel Leon (Flushing, N.Y.). They all have unique qualities and an uncanny ability on the ball. All three are playmakers. Koki has dangerous 1 v 1 strengths, Sani is very good at possessing the ball and Leon has tremendous ball-striking skills. At wide midfield, the Mavericks have many players to choose from. Guerrero comes into 2011 after an injury-shortened 2010 campaign. He will log many minutes at outside midfield or outside back. Red shirt sophomore Mustaffa Alobeidy (Baghdad, Iraq) is a tenacious player, who will be one of the fittest athletes in the ECC in 2011. Incoming true freshmen Ryan Flynn (Valley Stream, N.Y.), Juan Carlos Murgueitio (Jackson Heights, N.Y.) and Terrell Chapman (Baldwin, N.Y.) have impressed and should all look to contribute in 2011. Junior Daniele Iamiceli (Ossining, N.Y.), sophomore Zurab Cherashvili (Mahopac, N.Y.), William Sandoval (Port Washington, N.Y.) and Raul Santos (Bronx, N.Y.) are players to keep an eye on.
At forward, the Mavericks have added three new players who will all compete for time along with returner Latchford, who enters into his last year of eligibility and is truly the leader of the team. Latchford enters his final season as being a four-year captain and is coming off his best season where he was named an ECC All-Conference Second Team defender. In 2011, he will log most of his minutes at forward. The three new forwards include junior college All-American Ernest Afful (Columbus, Ohio), junior college All-Region selection Ransmond Aboagye (Bronx, N.Y.) and freshman Roberto Dashi (Nyack, N.Y.). Afful is a fast and experienced player who can get behind the defense and be dangerous. Aboagye is a tenacious player who creates many scoring opportunities by being very energetic and hard working. Dashi is a young physical presence with enormous potential and can be a true central target.
The 2011 Mavericks will be aiming to make the East Coast Conference playoffs, compete for the conference championship and try to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1989. That quest begins on Friday, September 2 when the squad travels to Albany, N.Y. to battle St. Michael's in the St. Rose Tournament.