Season Preview: Men's Soccer Looks to Break Through in 2012 Starting Thursday at UB Classic
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - Newark, Del.
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The 2012 season begins with very high expectations for the Wilmington University men’s soccer program.
Entering his ninth season at the helm of the Wildcats, head coach Nick Papanicolas is coming off a rebuilding season in 2011, finishing 8-7-4 overall.
Although the overall record was not what the coaching staff expected in 2011, the team put a positive spin on the season with some noted highlights. First, the team knocked off two nationally ranked teams in the same week, defeating #20 Millersville, 4-2, and #18 Post, 4-0, in a matter of six days. The Wildcats also earned the number two seed in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament with a 7-2-2, and was ranked tenth in the NCAA East Regional Poll.
Papanicolas has made it to every CACC Tournament in his tenure at Wilmington, making it nine straight appearances since the team joined the NCAA ranks in 2004. The 2011 team had the most among CACC teams with three players that were voted to the All-CACC First Team, and five total players with two more named to the All-CACC Second Team. But the 2011 team graduated five senior who will surely be missed.
Returning to assist Papanicolas in 2012 is associate head coach Jeff Zoyac who will join Papanicolas for his ninth season, and assistant coach Miles Dean for his fifth year. New to the staff this season is Andrews Hurtado who comes to Wilmington after leading the Del. Tech – Stanton men’s soccer program to a 35-18-9 record and the NJCAA playoffs in all four years at the helm. Hurtado is also an alumnus of the Wildcat program, playing under Papanicolas from 2003-05, earning captaincy as a senior. Russell Dobos is the lone student assistant on the staff, and he will lead the goalkeepers after playing in the Wildcat program the past two years. Rounding out the coaching staff is Tony DiVirgilio who will head the strength and conditioning of the team. DiVirgilio also played under Papanicolas and was a 2010 NSCAA All-Region selection. All the coaches have done an excellent job recruiting this off season to help bring the program back to the level of expectations.
Papanicolas is only returning ten players off last year’s roster, but five of the returners are the team’s seniors. Three of the returning seniors received post season accolades, two of which were voted First Team All-CACC. Crafty midfielder and co-captain, Kresimir Nurnberger, finished fourth national in NCAA Division II statistics with 12 assists in 2011 and dominant defender Justus Henry, who anchored the defense, both earned First Team All-CACC a year ago. Second Team All-CACC honoree and co-captain Ray Kuemmer returns after scoring four goals and seven assists. Rounding this year’s senior class is Zach Hinte who will help in the midfield and forward Victor Obassy.
The remaining returners include two juniors, forward Tom Quaranta who tallied nine goals and added one assist in 2011 and midfielder Matko Novak. The returning sophomores include 2011 starting goalkeeper Spyros Stergiotis, forwards Vitor Lima, and Shaheen Rahmani.
Coach Papanicolas has added many new faces to the 2012 team which includes two transfers, five freshmen and five coming off red-shirt seasons. Leading this new ensemble of transfers is forward Otis Williams who was the captain for Marshalltown Community College and led the team in scoring with 10 goals and five assists. Assisting in the midfield is sophomore transfer Pedro Moreira who is a creative player who scored five goals and added six assists for Mountain State University in 2011.
This year’s freshmen class includes one forward, a midfielder, two defenders and one goalkeeper who will be the core for the future. Leading the young Wildcats talents is forward Reafe Anderseron and midfielder and Brazilian native Lucas Rizzo on offense. On the backline, Papanicolas welcomes Ian Wattanga and local talent Lance Berry. Berry was a First Team All-State member, was the captain of his team as a senior and helped lead his team to being 2010 State Finalists. Rounding out the freshmen class and competing for the starting goalkeeper spot is another local product in Aaron Brown. Brown was the starting keeper for Newark High school for three years.
Coming off their red-shirt seasons are three defenders who have been brought in to help lock down a defense that gave up the second most goals in program history last season. Starting with 2010 NSCAA JUCO Second Team All-American Todd Woll, Papanicolas also welcomes in Mike Valenti and Sam Fahnboto. Woll was the defensive catalyst that helped Burlington Community College reach the Region IXX Final in 2010. Valenti was a 2009 All-Region XI selection and a 2010 All-American. Fahnboto transferred from Bucks County C.C. where he was a major piece of the 2008 EPCC and PCAA championship team. Fahnboto was a defensive MVP, All-Conference and All-State selection in 2008 for the Centurions. He was also second on the team with 12 goals as a defender.
Two forwards have also come off their red-shirt season to help aid in the scoring efforts for 2012. Musa Wiah was a 2010 First Team All-Region IXX selection and a NJCAA Second Team All-American selection. Everad Maylor is coming off a one year hiatus after three years on the team at local John Dickinson High School.
The coaching staff is excited for the new season and is looking forward to working with all the new players to again reach the CACC Tournament and make a run for their first CACC Tournament Championship since 2007.