DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. (Aug. 29, 2017) – The Mercy College men's soccer team begins their 2017 season on Thursday, August 31st at Southern Connecticut State University at 7 p.m. The Mavericks look to make their third ECC Tournament appearance in the last six years.
Second-year head coach Pedro Velazquez and the Mavericks will look to improve up a 9-4-3 mark in 2016. The nine wins were the most for the program since 2013 and Velazquez looks to lead the Mavericks back to the ECC Tournament with several key returners and a strong recruiting class coming into the fold.
"We have an experienced and talented group of players that are working hard and are focused on getting better every day," stated Velazquez. "I believe that type of mentality will help us make the postseason and lead to a successful year."
Leading the returners at the forward position is senior Ericson Penate who ended last season with a team-high eight goals and 18 points in 16 games. Penate was an ECC All-Conference Third Team selection in 2016 and will look to improve upon his goal total in 2017.
Velazquez will also look to senior Haxhi Verjoni who comes off a season in which he was second on the team with six goals and 14 points. The forward has appeared in 45 games for the Mavericks and has 25 career points.
Returning after a strong freshman campaign is Santiago Corral who produced five goals and 11 points in his first year in Dobbs Ferry. Corral will be joined by graduate student Danny Gavin who joins Mercy after transferring from Division I University of Washington.
Second Team All-ECC selection junior Lucca Lacerda leads the returners in the midfield after dishing out a team-high seven assists in 2016 to go along with three goals. Lacerda started all 16 games and enters 2017 with 12 career assists.
Looking to compete for minutes at the midfield position are juniors Alejandro Alvarez, Mariglen Verjoni and Romello Fraser and sophomore Manuel Achondo. Alvarez joins the Mavericks after playing two seasons at American International College where he posted five goals, two assists and ten points in 28 starts.
Velazquez's backline returns several starters and is senior laden. Leading the returners is graduate student Daniel Watson who appeared in all 16 games last season and played in a team-high 1,389 minutes with one goal and two assists.
Also, looking to solidify the backline are seniors Patricio Laffaye, Facundo Bouciguez, Adil Gowani and Jose Carvajal. The quartet combined to make 31 starts a year ago and will help make the defense one of the most experienced in the ECC.
Returning in goal for Velazquez is senior Kwantarian Van der Lara who started all 16 games last season with a 9-4-3 record and a .698 save percentage. The senior made 60 saves, posted five shutouts and was ECC Defensive Player of the Week twice.
Mahamed Keita joins the Mavericks after playing two years at Dutchess Community College where he was a two-time All-Region selection.