Starting jobs undecided in preseason

The College’s men’s soccer team will look to improve upon its 7-9-2 record during its disappointing 2004 season.

Last year’s team had trouble finishing on the offensive side, as they were held scoreless in eight of 18 games.

Head coach George Nazario admits that goal scoring was not the team’s strong point.

“If we’re not creating opportunities to score, then I have a problem, but that wasn’t the problem,” Nazario said. “It was lack of conversions, not lack of opportunities.”

With the goal of winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in mind, this year’s team will have to find ways to convert on the offensive end and in turn, allow its strong defensive unit to hold onto leads.

Last year’s team placed six members on the NJAC All-Star Team. Four of them will return this fall, namely senior midfielder Matt Connor, sophomore midfielder Joe McGinley, senior back Jeff Lageman and sophomore goalie Michael Cladek.

Senior forward Ryan McMann was the leading point man last year for the Lions with three goals and three assists per game. Connor added five points with two goals and an assist as a midfielder. Both will return this season.

Despite a 1-5-2 conference record last year, Nazario remains confident that this team will make some noise within the conference.

“Even though the record didn’t show it, we were pretty competitive,” he said.

The Lions battled both the conference champion Ospreys of Richard Stockton College as well as the Roadrunners of Ramapo College, who finished 12-6-1, to scoreless draws.

“That was a positive sign for last year’s squad and what lies ahead for this year,” Nazario said.

With seven graduating seniors, the team lost several key players including defender Jim Cooney, who was named to the NJAC All-Defensive Second Team, and its two goalkeepers, Shawn Mecchi and Rich Adams.

At this point, it is unclear who will replace these players.

With several positions up for grabs, including goalkeeper, preseason competition will determine who will earn the starting jobs.

What’s clear, however, is that this relatively young team will need to get some production from its underclassmen if it hopes to climb atop the conference standings by season’s end.

The Lions will get their season going Labor Day weekend as they play John Jay College at the Ramapo College Invitational on Sept. 3. They will face New York Polytech the following day, also part of the Invitational.