Buffalo, NY – Adding depth and talent to a maturing roster, the D'Youville men's soccer team is looking at 2016 as an opportunity to make their presence known in the AMCC.
"I'm cautiously optimistic about the group we have this year," said head coach Brendan Murphy. "It has been a great vibe through preseason and we have been able to put together some impressive moments at practice."
D'Youville will look to its leadership to push a team primarily made up of freshman and juniors to the next level. The team's captain, however, anchors the back line for the Spartans and is one year removed from an AMCC Third Team All-Conference in his freshman season.
"Josh Hammer (Amherst, NY/Sweet Home) is a captain as a sophomore and will be a force to reckon with in the back," said Murphy. "His fitness, athleticism, leadership and technical ability will be a major factor in any success we have this year."
Hammer will be joined on defense by juniors Mike Lekanka (Newfane, NY/Newfane) and Aweso Noor (Buffalo, NY/Canisius). Lekanka has been a steady defender for the team in his previous two years while Noor has continued to develop into a reliable player who looks to increase his importance to the team this year.
On offense, one of the team's most reliable defenders last season, Dan Tarbell (Clarence, NY/Clarence) shifts to forward to score goals rather than defend them. He will be joined by newcomer Hunter Sherman (Lockport, NY/Lockport) to form a formidable one-two punch on the Spartan's front line.
In the midfield, lone senior Pat Mann (Brighton, NY/Brighton) anchors a young group of talented freshman. Rhete Ru (Thailand Refugee Camp/Riverside), Marco Ciccarelli (Rochester, NY/Webster-Schroeder), Abhijit Gopinath (Brampton, ON, CA/Fletcher's Meadow) and Allan Wade (Lockport, NY/Lockport) will all compete for playing time.
Junior Brandon Pauly (Owego, NY/Owego) has versatility as a forward and midfielder and will be asked to add an attacking weapon in the midfield this season because of his experience and ability to strike the ball.
"Each of them brings something unique to the table," said Murphy. "They have both worked extremely hard and made tremendous improvements over the last two weeks."
Other veterans Mark Passantino (Marilla, NY/Iroquois), Bryce Humphrey (Manlius, NY/Fayetteville-Manlius) and Jason Wilson (Binghamton, NY/Chenango Forks) will all bring leadership and play key roles for the team's success. Newcomers Paul Gettman (Amherst, NY/Williamsville South), Richard Maurer (Rochester, NY/Bishop Kearney), Tim Busher (Weatherly, PA/Marian Catholic), Jumale Jumale (Buffalo, NY/DaVinci) and Matt Henry (Eden, NY/Eden) have been welcomed additions to the program and will help build the program.
"They keys with this group are going to be staying together, dealing with setbacks and finding our identity as quickly as possible," said Murphy. "We are looking for strong leadership from all of our veteran players along with important contributions from our new guys."
The team opens up their season this Saturday, September 3rd as they host Penn State-Harrisburg at 2pm at Dobson Field. Coach Murphy is hopeful for his new season and is ready to get the season started.
"I am excited for the journey we are about to embark on and I look forward to every opportunity this season will present."
D'Youville's schedule, as well as links to live stats and video for Saturday and the rest of the season can be found here.