Aug. 16, 2006
By Brianne Mallaghan
Special to GoHolyCross.com
With 13 letterwinners and five starters returning from last year, including five of the top six scorers on the team, the 2006 Holy Cross Crusaders have a solid core of veteran players who are hoping to take the program to new heights in Patriot League play.
"We have a very focused, excited group coming back," said head coach Elvis Comrie. "They have worked hard to create definitive goals for themselves and have really come together as a team. They established a foundation during the Spring that everyone is excited about and looking forward to this upcoming season."
In 2005, nine different players recorded goals, seven different players recorded assists, and all but three of those point-getters are returning this season.
"The return of our two top goal scorers in Josh Trott and Marsalis Beckford, and the emergence of Sefton Kincaid will play key roles in our overall success this coming year," said Comrie. "I think the sophomore class (Andreas Andrews, Keith Bauer, Felipe Castrillon, Joseph Cherackel, Jerry Dickinson, Kregory Hefner, Alejandro Melean, Peter Siclari) has made tremendous strides in establishing themselves and I expect them to make a difference this year. And Alex Cruz, Yannick James, and Andrew Thompson will give us valuable upperclassmen leadership."
With excellent team dynamics and 10 newcomers expected to offer immediate depth to an already talented squad, look for Holy Cross to make a run for the 2006 Patriot League championship.
The 2006 Crusaders will be led by two-time All-Region and three-time All-Patriot League selection, Josh Trott. Trott returns as the team's top goal scorer and point-getter, as he finished the 2005 campaign tied for first in the Patriot League in total points, points per game, goals and goals per game. The New York native enters the 2006 season ranked 10th on the program's all-time list for career points (41 career points) and is six goals away from breaking into the program's Top 5 for career goals.
Alongside Trott at the striker position will be junior Marsalis Beckford, who emerged as one of the top forwards in the Patriot League in 2005. Beckford earned a starting job last season and showed signs of dominance during conference play, finishing the season as the top point-getter and one of the top goal scorers in the league.
Juniors Sefton Kincaid and Chidie Okpoebo will also be back in the line-up this season. Kincaid will look to bounce back from a tough sophomore year after his breakout freshman campaign, in which he finished the season second on the team in scoring, while Okpoebo, who has started 27 of 30 career games, will bring a wealth of game experience and consistency up front.
Talented sophomore Felipe Castrillon was a two-time BRINE Rookie of the Week selection last season and finished the season in the Patriot League Top 15 in both goals and goals per game. Castrillon's speed and stellar ball-handling skills overshadow what he lacks in size, as he is expected to be one of the team's top goal scorers in 2006.
Senior Yannick James is back in uniform this season after sitting out last year. James will be returning after a solid 2004 season in which he started nine out of the 12 games he played in, while recording two goals, including a game-winner.
Freshman Wesley Laine will look to contribute right away on the Crusader front line.
Sophomore Andreas Andrews returns as the team's top playmaker, having totaled seven assists last season, finishing just three assists short of program record-holder Dean Casagrande `83. A BRINE Rookie of the Week selection, Andrews finished the season ranked second in the Patriot League in assists and was one of only four players on the team to start all 16 games a year ago. The California native posseses experience beyond his youth, playing consistently with composure and grace in the midfield.
Fellow sophomore Alejandro Melean showed signs of a smart, level-headed player last season and is expected to fight for more playing time in 2006. Melean appeared in 13 games last season and recorded a goal.
A majority of the Class of 2006 made up the core of the Holy Cross defense, and it will be difficult to replace two-time All-Patriot League selection Kevin Leonard, as well as three-year starters Gamal Baker and William Walker, but the 2006 roster is full of young, talented players who are looking forward to the challenge.
Sophomore and 2006 co-captain, Jerry Dickinson, will be looked upon to anchor the defense this season, as one of only four players on the team to start all 16 games last year. At six-foot-one, Dickinson is an imposing presence in the backfield, but also has the speed and talent to make things happen offensively.
Seniors Andrew Thompson and Alex Cruz bring veteran experience to the club, combining for 58 career games and 21 career starts between them. Thompson is perhaps one of the most reliable backs on the squad, while Cruz will be back in the line-up after sitting out in 2005.
Versatile sophomores Kregory Hefner, Joseph Cherackel and Peter Siclari, along with newcomers Ben Salmon, Luke Van Patten and Peter Whooley will add depth and give the team options in both the midfield and backfield.
The Crusaders have three very capable, yet very young goalkeepers who will be fighting for starting job in 2006. The veteran of the group is sophomore Keith Bauer. Bauer saw limited playing time in 2005, after spending the season backing-up the since-graduated Richard Whipple. In the time that he saw, however, Bauer recorded a win in his only start, turning away six shots against Harvard in the Crusaders' 2-1 win.
Comrie is also expecting big things from freshmen keepers Tom Booth and David LeBar. Booth is a five-foot-11 native of New York who was an All-County selection last season. He also spent time on the 2005 Super Y-League National ODP Team and the 2005 Long Island Rough Riders Super Y-League North American team.
LeBar, who posted 10 shutouts and a 0.97 goals against average his senior season, has a solid six-foot-two, 190-pound frame. The Florida product earned Second Team All-Central Florida and All-Conference accolades after leading Winter Springs to the 2005 District championship.