The men’s soccer team is poised to qualify for the NJAC playoffs for a second consecutive season, with much of the spine for last year’s team coming back for the opportunity at another playoff run.
The Lions were picked to finish fifth in the conference standings this
year in the pre-season NJAC poll, just good enough to make the post-season in the 10-team leauge and exactly where they finished last year.
Despite the loss of 20-goal scorer forward Kevin Shaw, among the top offensive players in D-III, longtime head coach George Nazario has retained much of the core from 2013 that drove the Lions to the NJAC semi-finals.
Twenty-two of the team’s 26 players on roster are upperclassmen, which include proven game-changers on offense and defense.
The midfield continigent of sophomores Nick Costelloe, Sean Etheridge and senior Kevin McCartney — who often pull the strings for the Lions’ sleek counter attack, combining for 14 goals and 11 assists — is back on the roster, alongside senior forward Greg Perri, who had his most productive season in 2013 with five goals.
On the other side of the ball, a stingy defensive unit that allowed 1.09 goals per game is undergoing a transition, with longtime goalkeeper Aaron Utman and defensive talisman Sean Casey no longer in the mix.
But senior defenders Greg Kaye and Ryan MacMillan — the latter having played 1,782 minutes last season, second-most on the team — along with junior defender Dan McMillan can ease the transition for the back line. Junior goalkeeper Maciej Libucha showed well with a .99 goals against average in 2013.
The changes made to the team on the field will have the chance to be tested against the best in Division III, as the Lions have a grueling non-conference schedule early on.
The College kicks off the season with a tournament in Glassboro starting on Friday, Aug. 29, as they take on powerhouses Messiah College and Elizabethtown College, several more games with high profile opposition before the home opener on Wednesday, Sept. 17, versus FDU-Florham.