Aug. 15, 2005
Worcester, Mass. - Despite a winning record in 2004, the Holy Cross men's soccer team only managed a 1-4-2 (seventh place) mark in Patriot League play and did not make the conference tournament playoffs for the first time in eight years and just the second time in the last 11 years. This season, however, with 17 letterwinners and 10 starters returning to the lineup, the Crusaders have the experience and talent to make a run for their fifth regular season conference championship in the last 10 years.
FORWARDS: Holy Cross returns its top scoring threat in junior captain Josh Trott (Glen Cove, N.Y.). The speedy forward earned National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA)/adidas All-Region and All-New England accolades in 2004 after posting 12 points on five goals and two assists. The 2003 Patriot League Rookie of the Year garnered First Team All-Patriot League honors last season after leading the team in both points and goals and tying for first in assists. Trott, who served as a tri-captain last year, has started all 29 career games he has played in and returns as one of the league's premier goal scorers.
Junior Yannick James (Brooklyn, N.Y.) brings size and toughness to the Crusader front line. The six-foot-one, 185 pounder played in 12 games last season, making nine starts. He finished the year tied for fourth on the team in scoring with two goals and four points, including one game winner.
Sophomores Sefton Kincaid (Orlando, Fla.) and Marsalis Beckford (Branford, Ontario) bring a lot of game experience to the HC squad, despite their youth. Kincaid played in all 15 games last season and made nine starts. A fleet-footed forward, he finished the season second on the team in both goals (three) and points (six). Beckford also played in all 15 games last year and made two starts. He finished third on the team in scoring after a rookie campaign in which he posted two goals and an assist for five total points. Both Kincaid and Beckford tallied game winning goals in 2004.
Sophomore Chidie Okpoebo (Chelmsford, Mass.) split time playing up front and in the midfield last season and will again give the Crusaders depth at both positions. Okpoebo appeared in 14 games, making 12 starts and added a game winning goal.
Junior Andrew Thompson (Avon, Conn.) saw action in six contests last year and will compete for more playing time in 2005.
Freshman Felipe Castrillon (Weston, Fla.), who was a two-time Second Team All-State selection at Cypress Bay, has the versatility to help add a scoring punch up front and drop back to contribute to the midfield.
MIDFIELD: Seniors Anthony Cinelli (New Hyde Park, N.Y.) and William Walker (Midland, Ga.) will bring a great deal of game experience and composure to the Crusaders in 2005. Both Cinelli and Walker started all 15 games last season and combined for five points (two goals, one assist) out of the midfield. Cinelli will be expected to step up his game this season as the only senior in the clear-cut midfield, while Walker will again play a more defensive role.
Junior Michael Coakley (Tiverton, R.I.) will also return with a lot of game experience under his belt. A deceptively talented player, Coakley is expected to take charge of the central midfield and help distribute the ball and control the tempo of the game this season. Coakley started 14 of 15 games last year and contributed three points. Junior Andrew Lunney (San Diego, Calif.) saw more and more playing time towards the end of the season last year and will look to continue his strong play and win a starting job this season.
Junior Chris Block (New Berlin, Wisc.) appeared in five games last year and looks to compete for a more regular role in the Holy Cross system this year.
Freshmen Peter Siclari (Brentwood, R.I.), Alejandro Melean (Miami, Fla.), Gerald Dickinson (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Andreas Andrews (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Kregory Hefner (Phoenix, Ariz.) will compete for playing time and give the team options and added depth at midfield.
DEFENSE: The Crusaders will rely heavily on senior defender Kevin Leonard (Unionville, Conn.) to again anchor the Holy Cross defense. A Second Team All-Patriot League selection in 2004, Leonard was a major reason why the Crusaders posted five shutouts in 2004. The six-footer, who has started 32 of 35 career games, also chipped in offensively with one goal and two assists for four points.
Joining Leonard in the Holy Cross backfield is senior Gamal Baker (Columbus, Ga.). Another crucial element in the HC defense, Baker started all 15 games last season and helped the Crusaders post a 1.27 goals against average.
There are also lofty expectations for junior Alex Cruz (Conyers, Ga.) after a breakout season in 2004. Cruz started all 15 games in 2004, after starting just one game as a freshman and showed impressive ball handling skills as well as a knack for the goal. He recorded 19 shots from his defensive position and his two goals and four total points tied for fourth-best on the team.
Junior John Nunez (Fishkill, N.Y.), who played in three games last year and recorded a shot on goal, will also compete for playing time.
A First Team All-State selection in high school, freshman Norbert Sieczkewski (Linden, N.J.) is a welcome addition to the Holy Cross defense.
GOALIES: Senior Richard Whipple (Columbus, Ga.) enters his third year as the team's starting goalkeeper. In conference games last season, the six-foot-one keeper led the Patriot League in saves and saves per game, while finishing second in the league in those same categories among all games. His career-high five shutouts were also a league-best (all games). A two-time BRINE Defensive Player of the Week selection in 2004, Whipple finished the season with a .789 save percentage.
NEWS AND NOTES:
- Elvis Comrie enters his 15th season as the head coach of the Crusaders. Recently inducted into the Connecticut Hall of Fame, Comrie has the most career wins (95) of any men's soccer coach in school history and is expected to be the first soccer coach - men's or women's - in school history to compile 100 career wins.
- Holy Cross lost just one starter from 2004 in the recently-graduated Geoff O'Connell.
- There are eight newcomers from seven different states on the 2005 squad. Two players hail from Florida (Castrillon, Melean), while Arizona (Hefner), California (Andrews), New Jersey (Sieczkewski), New York (Bauer), Pennsylvania (Dickinson) and Rhode Island (Siclari) are also represented.
- Roster breakdown: 25 total players (six seniors, eight juniors, three sophomores, eight freshmen) from 12 different states (Arizona (one), California (two), Connecticut (two), Florida (three), Georgia (four), Massachusetts (two), New Jersey (one), New York (five), Ontario, Canada (one), Pennsylvania (one), Rhode Island (two) and Wisconsin (one)).
Holy Cross kicks off the 2005 season with weekend games at the Philips/Adidas Classic at Rutgers University from September 2-3. The Crusaders then travel to Albany, N.Y., for games against St. Francis (N.Y.) and Canisius the following weekend. The Crusaders' first home game is not until mid-September when they host Sacred Heart at 4:00 on the 14th.
For all the latest news and updates on the Holy Cross men's soccer team or on any of the school's other 26 varsity sports, log on to www.GoHolyCross.com.