Coming off of a successful run to the MAAC Semifinals last season, the Marist men's soccer team begins its 18-game 2012 slate on Friday, Aug. 24 with a home contest versus Big West competitor UC Riverside. Following an 8-7-5 season, in which the Red Foxes were ranked in the NSCAA North Atlantic Poll five times, the team will look for veterans and newcomers to mesh as they have their sights set on qualifying for the MAAC postseason once again.
Returning five starters, including All-MAAC honorees; forward Stephan Brossard (Port Washington, N.Y.) and defender Dylan Lee (Hopewell Junction, N.Y.), sixth year head coach Matt Viggiano has high expectations for his squad.
Brossard, who notched 20 points in 2011 on seven goals and six assists, is anticipated to carry the load on offense initially as he welcomes a quartet of offensive weapons into the fold. Newcomers Greg Davis, Wes Finch and Emeka Nwachukwu all look to transfer the success that they found at their prior schools to the pitch at Marist. Davis (Jamaica, N.Y.) played two seasons at Providence and led the Friars in scoring in 2011, while Finch (Newburgh, N.Y.) was an All-Conference player and led Sage College with 12 goals and 30 points in 2011. Nwachukwu (London, England) brings a wealth of experience to the team's offense as he will be participating as a graduate student after competing in 29 games at NJIT. The fourth newcomer to watch on the offensive side of the ball is Cesar Ceja (Port Chester, N.Y.). A two-time member of the ESPN Rise All-New York team, Cesar will join his brother Gerry as a Red Fox.
With Krystian Witkowski graduating onto the professional ranks of Major League Soccer with the Philadelphia Union, the Red Foxes will be relying on a mixture of veterans and new faces in the midfield. Seniors Josh Faga (Rochester, N.Y.) and Anthony Rozmus (Hopewell Junction, N.Y.) bring experience and differing skill sets to the pitch. Faga will hold a defensive midfield role for Marist, while Rozmus will be looked upon as a playmaker and to duplicate his 2011 season, in which he was second on the team with five assists.
Impact newcomers in the midfield include: Matty Berman, Evan Southworth and Simon Laugsand. Berman (West Orange, N.Y.) comes in as a sophomore after spending his first collegiate season as a member of the NCAA Tournament tested Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Southworth (Newburgh, N.Y.) is a junior, who played with Finch at Sage College and earned All-Conference recognition, while netting eight goals and four assists in his first two years. Laugsand (Sortland, Norway), a freshman, joins Marist after a strong youth career in Norway.
Defensively, Marist returns a strong foundation in the back third. Following his MAAC All-Rookie season in 2011, Lee will once again team with past MAAC honorees: Tony Carreras (Valley Stream, N.Y.) and Gerry Ceja (Port Chester, N.Y.). The trio was part of a defense that helped post eight shutouts in 2011. Sophomore transfer MJ Stellwag (Newburgh, N.Y.), who played at the University of Scranton as a freshman, will look to solidify the backfield.
Following the graduation of goalkeeper Steve Skonieczny, Marist will look to newcomer Anthony Sokalski (London, Ontario) to fill the void. A two-year student-athlete at Binghamton, Sokalski provides an imposing figure in the net with eight games of Division 1 experience. He will be in a battle for playing time with returners Joe Ruocco (Queens, N.Y.) and Nick Gent (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.).
Friday's opener kicks off a demanding non-conference schedule that Viggiano hopes will test and strengthen his team for the difficult contests that the MAAC schedule will promise down the stretch. Non-conference games that highlight the schedule include; home matches with UC Riverside, Northeastern and Yale and away contests versus North Carolina State, and Radford and UNC-Asheville at the Radford Invitational. MAAC play for the Red Foxes begin on Oct. 5 at home versus Manhattan and wraps up with three consecutive road matchups at Siena and Fairfield before closing at Iona on Nov. 4. The 2012 MAAC Tournament will be hosted this season at Loyola and be held on Nov. 9 and 11.