AREA MEN’S TEAMS KICK OFF SEASON FRIDAY
All three local NCAA Division I men’s teams kickoff their seasons on Friday. For a brief look at each team — you can read through the team capsules below.
For what it’s worth — Pitt and Duquesne squared off last weekend in a preseason scrimmage — and the Panthers came away with a 2-1 win in OT.
Here’s the men’s schedule of openers:
Friday, August 26
Niagara at Robert Morris 1 p.m.
Saint Francis Univ at Duquesne 7 p.m.
and of regional interest —
The West Virginia University men’s soccer team opens the 2016 season with a pair of neutral site contests against two top-15 opponents in Akron, Ohio, this weekend.
The season kicks off on Friday, Aug. 26, as WVU faces No. 14 Seattle at 4:30 p.m. ET and vs. No. 10 Georgetown on Sunday at 2 p.m. Both contests will take place at Akron’s FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
Here are team-by-team men’s team capsules for Pitt, Duquesne and Robert Morris:
Head Coach – Jay Vidovich (272-121-50, 22 seasons at Wake Forest)
Pitt 2015 Record – (5-9-4 overall, 0-7-1 ACC)
Home Field: Ambrose Urbanic Field
For Pitt, as I’ve profiled last week, it will be a season of transition with new, but highly touted coach Jay Vidovich on board to try to help turn the program in the right direction.
After three years in the very tough ACC, the Panthers have brought in a coach that has already won a National Championship at Wake Forest and is eager to be back in the college ranks after a year on the Portland Timbers coaching staff, including serving at the head coach of Timbers 2 USL team.
Pitt will open with two home games against Detroit on Friday, then Howard University on Sunday. Both games will kickoff at 7 p.m.
There are only a few local players on the roster, Will Marshall-SOPH-GK (East Allegheny), Matt Venanzi – SR-MF (Peters Twp HS — transfer from Vermont) and Oscar Marroquin – FR-GK (Central Catholic)
Head Coach – Chase Brooks (45-31-15 overall, 23-25-6, 3 seasons at Duquesne, 23-25-6, 2 seasons at Niagara 2011-12)
2015 Record – (6-9-2, overall, 4-3-1 A-10)
Home Field: Rooney Field
Last season, Duquesne’s made its second Atlantic 10 Championship appearance in three seasons under head coach Chase Brooks (2013 & 2015).
Duquesne returns seven starters from last year’s Atlantic 10 Championship-qualifying team, was picked to finish eighth in the annual preseason poll of A-10 coaches released today.
The Dukes, who ended up in a four-way tie for fourth last season, include two local players on their roster: Ryan Landry — a freshman standout from Shaler who played his club level at Arsenal FC of PA. Landry scored 50 goals and had 22 assists in four years at Shaler. Midfielder Brandon Walbert, who starred at South Park and played for Century United, started in 16 of the Dukes’ 17 games in his freshman year in 2015.
Head Coach – Bill Denniston (129-158-37, 20 seasons)
2015 Record – (10-8-1, Overall; 4-2-1, NEC Conf)
The past few seasons the Colonials have boasted some top level talent on its roster — including having the likes of MLS drafted players Devon “Speedy” Williams (NY Red Bulls) and Neco Brett (Portland Timbers). They’ve also included a few players that have played with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, including Miro Cabrilo and goalkeeper Brendan Alfery.
Brett had been the Colonials go-to scorer for much of the past three seasons, scoring a 42 goals, and was three-time NEC Player of the Year and 2015 NSCAA All-American — and now they’ll have to find a way to replace him.
Thirteen players return to the squad including five of the team’s top six scorers.
A trio of All-NEC Second Team picks highlight those returners. Redshirt-senior back Bennett Jull is one of those and will lead a back four that saw massive improvement last season while posting five shutouts. Junior Keane Mc Ivor finished with two goals and four assists for a total of eight points in his first season with RMU.
Sophomore Lucas Puntillo, in addition to earning a second team nod, was named to the NEC All-Rookie Team after finishing second on the squad and fifth in the league with 16 points on five goals and six assists. Returning for his sophomore season, Zac Sherman joined Puntillo on the league’s all-rookie team due in large part to a late season surge that saw him tally two goals and an assist against conference opponents.
Local players on the Colonials roster include: Winter Fondi-JR-GK (Quaker Valley/Beadling); Matt Bisceglia-SO-GK (Kiski/Allegheny Force FC); Zach Graziani-JR-D-(West Allegheny/Beadling); Corey McCurdy– SO-M (Canon-Mac/Century United); Noah Elamin – SO-M (Shaler Area/Arsenal FC of PA); Chauncey Albright SR-M (Seton-LaSalle/PA Crew); Mikey Horgan – FR-D (Bethel Park); Christian Snatchko – FR-GK (Canon-McMillan/Riverhounds Academy)