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No. 18 Bears look to repeat past seasons’ successes

After graduating seven seniors, the men’s soccer team looks to start strong against the Bulldogs Friday

The men’s soccer team has been an Ivy League powerhouse in recent years, finishing third in the Ivy League last year with a 13-3-3 record and traveling to the NCAA Division I tournament for the third year in a row before falling to the No. 2 University of Maryland. Ranked 18th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll, the Bears will start the campaign with strong returning talent and promising newcomers. 

The Bears were previously ranked 24th in 2012 and 11th in 2011.

“There is always a lot of energy and excitement when you begin a new adventure like we are this year,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. “We’re focused on learning about each other — about our strengths and weaknesses.”

Laughlin will lead the team in his third season as head coach, alongside Andrew Biggs, who was recently elevated from assistant coach to associate head coach in his fourth season on College Hill.

Biggs was previously head coach at the University of New England, where he turned around the struggling program.

Returning veteran players Voltaire Escalona ’14, Jack Kuntz ’14, Jose Salama ’14 and Josh Weiner ’14 will serve as marshals on the field. The departure of seven seniors from the 2012 squad — including Dylan Remick ’13, now a Seattle Sounder in the MLS — means the Bears will have a young squad in the upcoming season.

Bruno will welcome eight first-years to the team and expects them to contribute from the outset, said forward Ben Maurey ’15.

“We are a really young team,” said Weiner, who will play as one of Bruno’s goalkeeping options. “We have nine upperclassmen and 17 underclassmen, so preseason has been a learning type of environment, getting younger guys acclimated to the team and the system that we want to play.”

Bruno has traditionally been a strong defensive team and posted 11 shutouts last year.

The loss of Eric Robertson ’13, Remick and Ryan McDuff ’13 from Bruno’s backline will allow younger players to step up into consistent defensive roles. Alex Markes ’15 will play an important role in the 2013 defense alongside Tim Whalen ’16.

“We’re a team that’s known for taking pride in defense, but we also want to have an offensive presence this year,” Maurey said. “We’d like to score a lot more goals and be a team that plays a full 90 minutes.”

Tariq Akeel ’16 and Jack Gorab ’16 will be asked to pull the strings in midfield for the Bears and will be supported by experienced players like Kuntz and Daniel Taylor ’15. Bruno also has multiple options in attack, with the likes of Maurey, Salama, Escalona and Nate Pomeroy ’17 all poised to find the back of the net for the Bears.

“Every season is different, but we want to be true to our team’s core values, and true to who we are as a program, and that is a team that is very difficult to beat,” Laughlin said. “We want to be a team that is committed to giving you everything you could possibly handle over the course of 90 minutes.”

Bruno will face several top-ranked opponents including Ivy League rival No. 22 Cornell and the Indiana Hoosiers, the defending National Champions.

The Bears kick off their campaign Friday at home in the Ocean State Classic tournament against Bryant University (1-1)  and will play again Sunday at Providence College (2-0).

“Bryant is a good team,” Maurey said, “and based on how everything has been going in preseason, I think it will be a very good game. It will be close, but I think we’ll get the win.”


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