SEASON PREVIEW: Breaking Down The 2013 Men's Soccer Roster

A second team All-BIG EAST selection last year, Jamie Thomas is one seven returning starters.

Aug 28, 2013

QUEENS, N.Y. - Following a season that culminated with an NCAA Tournament berth for the second-straight season and fourth time in five years, the St. John's men's soccer team enters the upcoming 2013 campaign with goals of earning a seventh BIG EAST regular season title, a 10th BIG EAST Tournament crown, and a 20th NCAA Tournament berth.

Tabbed to finish fourth in the preseason poll of the new-look, 10-team BIG EAST Conference, the Red Storm welcomes back 14 letterwinners, including seven starters, from a squad that finished 10-5-4 (4-3-1) a season ago.

"Our identity this season is based on the theme of obligation," head coach Dr. Dave Masur commented. "We need to be obligated to fulfilling our roles and obligated to improvement and, most importantly, obligated to each other. We all have individual and collective obligations and reminding ourselves of those will help us reach our goals for this season."

Goalkeepers
"The goalkeeper is always a position of leadership and we are fortunate this season to have an experienced fifth-year senior as our starter between the pipes," remarked Masur. "We always look for our keepers to exhibit a strong presence and a competitive fire."

Preseason BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year Rafael Diaz leads a group of four Red Storm goalkeepers. A second team NSCAA All-Northeast honoree and a first team All-BIG EAST choice last season, Diaz went 10-5-4 with a 0.75 goals against average and matched a career-high with eight shutouts. Entering his fourth year as a starter, the senior already ranks fourth all-time in the St. John's record books with 23 shutouts and fifth with 29 wins.

Sophomore Jordan Stagmiller will back up Diaz between the pipes. Stagmiller has made one appearance in his career, replacing an injured Diaz and playing the final 87:38 to earn a win against DePaul as a freshman.

 

 

Freshmen Owen Hankey, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Conor McElhinney, an all-state selection out of St. Anthony's, round out the depth at goalkeeper.

Defense
"Our defensive identity is built on communication and organization," Masur added. "Good verbal communication and leadership from the defensive unit help our entire squad maintain its organization."

Named the Preseason BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year and one of 34 players to appear on the initial Watch List for the MAC Hermann Trophy, junior Tim Parker (1g, 1a) anchors the perennially strong Red Storm defensive unit. Parker followed up his BIG EAST All-Rookie campaign by earning both first team NSCAA All-Northeast Region and second team All-BIG EAST honors last season.

A complement to Parker at the second center back position, sophomore Gabriel Camara (1g, 0a) started 18 games as a rookie last season. Junior Jordan Rouse appeared in 15 games, including eight starts, in a successful return to the field last season after being limited by injury to just one game in 2011. Sophomore Taylor Cole, who made his collegiate-debut last year and finished with 13 appearances and two starts, adds depth to the back line.

The 2012 NSCAA Junior College Player of the Year and a first team NSCAA All-American last season after helping Tyler J.C. win the NJCAA National Championship, junior Casey Osborne led the Apaches to a 38-4-5 record in two seasons and should contribute immediately.

A transfer out of Kentucky with two seasons of Division I experience, junior Marco Bordon was a Conference-USA All-Rookie selection for the Wildcats after starting 18 games and leading the team in minutes played.

Freshman Jean Leveille, a two-time all-prep selection, helped St. Benedict's Prep win back-to-back National Championships, while classmate and Florida native Brendan O'Connor was an all-area honoree at Riverview.

Midfield
"Consistency in our effort, work rate and ball movement are the keys to our success in the midfield," added Masur. "We always try to accomplish more with fewer touches and take advantage of our speed, agility and ability to think quickly."

Seniors Jamie Thomas (0g, 1a) and Jimmy Mulligan (2g, 1a) lead a deep and talented roster of midfielders. A key cog in the defensive midfield and a second team All-BIG EAST selection last season, Thomas has started 41-of-42 games in the past two years and has appeared in all 60 games in the past three seasons. One of six players to start all 19 games last season, Mulligan tallied his first-career game-winner in 2012 and has totaled four goals and seven assists in his career.

Limited by injuries to just six games off the bench last season, senior Adrian L'Esperance was a fixture in the starting lineup two years ago when he totaled three goals and four assists. L'Esperance has four goals, two game-winners, and five assists in his career.

Sophomore Brandon Savino (1g, 2a) made an immediate impact last season as the only Red Storm rookie to start all 19 games and one of two freshmen to tally a game-winning goal. Queens-product Danny Bedoya (2g, 1a), another sophomore that made significant contributions as a rookie, appeared in 17 games and made five starts.

Redshirt sophomore Cody Albrecht is healthy and poised to make his collegiate-debut after missing two seasons with injury, while redshirt freshmen Josh Dillon and Fernando Colella both look to make their debuts after spending a year in the system. Senior Gianpiero Torres will look to help the team on the field this season after previously serving off the field as a team manager.

A transfer from Division II Slippery Rock, sophomore Maxwell Aronica was a three-year high school letterwinner at Commack before earning all-league honors as a senior at Massapequa.

Freshman Miguel Alves, a member of the U-18 U.S. Men's National Team pool, was part of a St. Benedict's Prep squad that went 62-2-0 in his three seasons and won back-to-back National Championships. A native of nearby Whitestone, freshman Eric Mirkov grew up attending St. John's soccer games at Belson Stadium and graduated from St. Francis Prep with a school-record 29 assists.

Forwards
"We have more depth at forward this season and multiple guys that can contribute, but we need to be more consistent at the position," remarked Masur. "I want to see our guys not only creating opportunities, but also working to accomplish the small things on the field that make our team better."

The squad's leading returning scorer and an offensive spark plug off the bench last season, sophomore Jelani Williams (4g, 1a) netted one game-winning goal and appeared in all 19 games last season.

Junior Daniel Herrera (2g, 1a), who appeared in 18 games and made nine starts a season ago, has totaled three goals and three assists in his career. Sophomore Sean Sepe (0g, 3a) made a habit of creating havoc in the box as a rookie last season and appeared in 16 games, including four starts.

Redshirt sophomore Josh Godec will look to make his Red Storm debut, while freshmen Dela Agbotse, a native of Ghana and an all-county selection out of Elwood John Glenn, and Haris Kolenovic, a two-time all-league honoree out of La Salle Academy, round out the depth at forward.

Schedule
The 18-game regular season schedule is highlighted by games against two of the last four NCAA National Champions and a total of seven games against teams that participated in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including a pair that reached the College Cup.

After hosing NJIT (Aug. 30) in the season-opener, St. John's takes on 2009 NCAA National Champions and 2012 NCAA Tournament team Virginia (Sept. 2) on the road before hosting 2010 NCAA National Champion and 2012 NCAA Tournament squad Akron (Sept. 6) in a showdown at Belson Stadium.

Home games against Penn State (Sept. 8), South Carolina (Sept. 13) and West Virginia (Sept. 15) follow before the Red Storm opens BIG EAST play against 2012 NCAA College Cup squad and new conference member Creighton (Sept. 21).

Conference play continues on the road against DePaul (Sept. 28) before a three-game road trip concludes with a game against local-foe and 2012 NCAA Tournament team FDU (Oct. 1).

St. John's then hosts Providence (Oct. 5) and La Salle (Oct. 8) before heading to Villanova (Oct. 12). A three-game homestand follows as the Red Storm hosts Princeton (Oct. 15), 2012 NCAA Tournament squad Xavier (Oct. 19) and 2012 NCAA Tournament team Marquette (Oct. 23).

A trip to Indianapolis to face Butler (Oct. 26) is next before a Senior Night game at Belson Stadium against 2012 NCAA National Finalists Georgetown (Nov. 2). The regular season concludes on the road with a game at Seton Hall (Nov. 8).

Season ticket packages, including all 11 home games, are available now for just $55. Call 1-888-GO-STORM or visit www.redstormtix.com to order today. Youth teams in eighth grade and below can scrimmage during halftime of any Red Storm home game with group tickets available for just $4. Call 718-990-2142 for more information.

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