Around the conference: Men’s soccer

Matt Dillane

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Courtesy: Iona Athletics

Courtesy: Iona Athletics

With conference play set to begin on Sept. 30, men’s soccer teams across the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference are preparing to battle each other for the title this season.

The Quinnipiac Bobcats (1-3) will look to defend their MAAC title after little turnover from last season’s squad. 2013 MAAC Goalkeeper of the year, Borja Angoitia, will defend the net in his senior season with the Bobcats. The team also added five freshmen to the roster, including Bayern Munich FC product, Maxamilian Rothenbuecher.

After losing to Quinnipiac on penalties in the MAAC championship last season, the Monmouth Hawks (2-1) will hope to make a strong push for the title this season. Sophomore forward, Dave Nigro, looks to repeat as a major focal point in the Hawks’ offense. Monmouth will need to look to others to put the ball in the back of the net with the departure of leading goal scorer, Jacob Rubinstein.

The Iona Gaels (1-2-1) featured one of the most dangerous offenses in the MAAC last season, posting an average of 1.47 goals scored per game. The Gaels will need to adapt to life without midfielder, Franklin Castellanos, who put up 31 points in his senior season. Much of the burden is expected to fall on senior forward, Ignacio Maganto, who scored nine goals last season.

Following a season that saw the team just miss the playoffs, the Fairfield Stags (2-1-1) have a difficult year of adjustment ahead. With three of the team’s top goal scorers graduating following last season, the state of the offense is in question. The Stags added 10 freshmen to the roster for the 2014 season, and there is plenty of opportunity for a new face to step up and contribute.

After exploding onto the pitch with seven goals as a freshman last season, forward, Daniel Laguna-Kennedy will look to lead a Manhattan Jaspers (1-2) team that has retained much of its firepower from last year. Sophomore goaltender, Alex McDowell-Coates, returns for his second season minding the net.

The Rider Broncs (1-1-1) ended the 2013 season sharing the same disappointing record with three other schools in the MAAC. The team’s offense relies heavily on sophomore forward, Christian Flath, and junior defender, Sonimi Halliday. Others will need to contribute if the Broncs are to break .500 this season.

The Canisius Golden Griffins (2-0) struggled to find much success last year. The Golden Griffins are a young team with 10 freshmen on the roster. 6’5” senior forward, Asani Samuels, plays a pivotal role in this team’s offensive production, and will look to lead the Golden Griffins to a more successful season.

With a young roster consisting of just three seniors, the Siena Saints (4-1) hope to bounce back this season. One of these seniors is the versatile Nathan Olukanmi, who was second on the team with nine points last season. The Saints are very good at sharing the load when it comes to scoring, as 13 players scored at least one goal last year.

The Niagara Purple Eagles (2-3) struggled to find the back of the net last season, posting an average of 0.72 goals scored per game. Leading scorers Nicholas Watson and Callum Willmott will head the team’s offense once again.

The Saint Peter’s Peacocks (1-2) have also had offensive troubles, scoring more than one goal just three times last season. The Peacocks enter the season with many new faces, as nine freshmen join the roster.

Following a last place finish in the MAAC, the Marist Red Foxes (3-1) are hoping for a much better result for the 2014 season. The Red Foxes will look to sophomore midfielder, Mario Vukadinovic, to bolster the offense. Vukadinovic spent much of the 2013 season on the sidelines with an injury.

Conference play for the 2014 season begins on Sept. 30, with Quinnipiac battling Niagara, Iona taking on Siena, and Monmouth facing Canisius.