Soccer looks to keep up success

By Seva Galant
Signal Contributor

As summer comes to a close, a rigorous soccer preseason begins for the men’s soccer team. 

The Lions are looking to improve both on the road and in conference, coming off a 7-1-1 season, as their non-conference performance was just shy of spectacular. 

With hopes for the NCAA championship, the Lions are focused on earning a top-four slot within their conference, with a top-two earning them a bye that would result in a good shot of competing for a title. 

Top four performances usually merit an over .500 record, and with such strong performances in their non-conference games, it could mean the Lions will be strong competitors for the title this year.

“If we can place top four in the conference, we can make it big,” said George Nazario, the head coach of the men’s team.

Even being the No. 9 seed has no bearing on the Lions’ fate, as they have maintained the same seed from last year, which ended in a conference title. The team is currently focusing on developing scorers, assimilating underclassmen and building morale before the season, especially before preseason to induce better road game performances. 

The coaching staff hopes these efforts will create options for the team to reduce overall fatigue throughout the upcoming season. 

With the majority of conference games being home games this year, Nazario feels that the team has a significant advantage compared to last year, and that victory falls on the team’s conditioning and ability to execute. 

In having strong leadership with senior defender Matt Decker, senior midfielder Michael Maltese and junior midfielder Sam Monaco, Nazario is hoping for great teamwork and communication on the field and greater camaraderie throughout the season.

As for other returning teammates, the Lions are looking strong, with junior midfielder Ryan Vasquez, a second team All-Conference scorer with 14 goals and two assists, and sophomore midfielder Ryan Santos, who had four goals and three assists. 

Vasquez dribbles the ball upfield (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk).

After Maltese and junior midfielder James Pike constantly created scoring opportunities last season, Nazario is hopeful for the upcoming campaign.

The men’s first game will be in Washington, D.C., as they compete in the Catholic University Tournament on Friday, Aug. 30 against Lycoming College.

Meanwhile, the women’s soccer team has been preparing for yet another strong performance this year during preseason training. Coming off an NJAC championship title and a strong NCAA tournament, the anticipation is high for this upcoming season. 

In a heartbreaking third-round sectionals loss in the NCAA tournament, eyes are on the current teammates, who are trying to see if they can reach what was so close to their grasp last season. With such a deep set of returners and a successful performance last year, Joe Russo, the woman’s head coach, has high expectations for his squad going into the 2019 season.

“(The team) is the fittest they’ve returned in a while,” Russo said.

The women’s soccer team will begin its season at Swarthmore College on Friday, Aug. 30.

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