July 15, 1997
1997 Men's Soccer Preview
In 1995, Brian Ainscough took over a struggling soccer program at Providence College. In two seasons he has turned around the fortunes of the Friars. Last year the team made great strides, posting a 6-8-4 overall record and a 2-5-4 mark in league action. Only a 1-0 overtime loss at the University of Connecticut in PC's last league game kept the Friars from earning their first appearance in the BIG EAST Tournament since 1987. Ainscough believes this year's team should qualify for the BIG EAST Tournament.
Although the BIG EAST is one of the strongest conferences in the nation, the Friars' youthful offense will enable the squad to compete with any of the league foes. Sophomore forwards Kevin Jones (Westford, Mass.) aaes was a constant force in the PC offense. Like Jones, Eisenhut made a tremendous impact as a freshman. In 18 games last season, he scored two goals and added a team leading six assists. An extremely skilled player, Eisenhut is a serious offensive threat from the left side of the Friar attack. Freshman Andy Bussmann (Guilford, Conn.) should add a punch to the team's offense. Bussmann is a gritty player and should fit in well with Eisenhut and Jones. Rounding out the forwards is junior Gary Corrigan (Salisbury, Md.), who will see increased playing time this season. One of the hardest workers on the team, Corrigan showed tremendous improvement last season, playing in 14 of the team's 18 games.
Midfield will be the team's strongest position this season. Returning BIG EAST Rookie Team member sophomore Andrew McConville (Madison, Conn.) will be instrumental in PC's success this season. He is a very creative player with offensive potential. In 1996, McConville finished second on the team in scoring with four goals and three assists. To bolster the team's transition from defense to offense, senior captain Juan Acevedo (Belmont, Mass.) will move to the midfield. A tireless worker, Acevedo will present a problem for opposing defenses. Acevedo, who has led the team in scoring each of the last two seasons, is an offensive threat from anywhere on the field. He also will play forward when needed. Junior Bobby Brown (Westtown, N.Y.) should gain a starting position at center midfield this season. In 1996, he netted one goal and added one assist in 15 games. He had a strong spring season and will be expected to increase his production in 1997. Sophomores Jeremy Krause (Holliston, Mass.) and Chris Holterhoff (Wayne, N.J.) and junior Rafael Haegney (Holliston, Mass.) will bolster the team's midfield unit. Krause will move to his natural position of midfield this season after starting 16 games on defense in 1996. A very solid player, Krause displayed playmaking ability last season, notching four assists. Holterhoff will compete for a starting position. Last season as a rookie, he played in 14 games and recorded two assists. Haegney is entering his second season with the Friars after transferring from the University of Hartford in 1996. Joining the midfield corps will be two freshmen, Matt O'Toole (Norwell, Mass.) and Dane Smith (Wyoming, R.I.). O'Toole is a skilled player, who can compete at midfield or forward. He has the ability to challenge for a starting position. Smith, one of two local recruits in this year's freshman class, is a very hardworker. He has the talent and skill to develop into starter for the black and white.
On defense, the Friars will be led by seniors Andy McDonald (Holliston, Mass.) and Rob Kruse (Ft. Wayne, Ind.). With 48 games of collegiate experience, McDonald is one of the most reliable players on the Friar roster. He has been a starter in each of his three seasons at Providence. Kruse, who will serve as one of the team's assistant captains, will give the Friar defense a potent offensive threat. Last season while playing forward and midfield, he led the team in goals with five. Kruse will play sweeper this season and organize the Friar defense. Juniors Jim Riccobono (Bay Shore, N.Y.), and Keith Kostrzewski (Orchard Park, N.Y.), as well as senior Brian Abbate (Guilford, Conn.) are PC's other returning defenders. Riccobono, who was a walk-on as a freshman, has adjusted to the collegiate level and will challenge for a starting position. Kostrzewski and Abbate will all add depth and experience to the lineup. Head Coach Brian Ainscough believes that his defense gave away several games that the team could have won last season. He addressed this problem by recruiting two excellent defenders, freshmen John Costigan (Dublin, Ireland) and Keith Dorsey (Cranston, R.I.). Costigan is a tough defender, who has the ability to step in and solidify the defense. Dorsey, a native of Rhode Island, is a skilled defender with excellent speed.
Junior Dan Pires (Ludlow, Mass.) returns for his third season as the starting goalkeeper for the Friars. One of the top goalkeepers in the league, Pires earned Second Team All-BIG EAST accolades last season after recording a 6-6-2 record, a 1.48 goals against average and a .829 save percentage. In addition to being one of the team's top players, Pires is a leader and will serve as an assistant captain this season. Unfortunately, PC does not have a legitimate backup goalie. It is the one position in which the team lacks depth and could prove to be a problem for the Friars.
For the first time in Brian Ainscough's tenure at Providence College, the Friars have a balanced team with skill and depth. The team also has excellent leadership in captain Juan Acevedo and assistant captains Rob Kruse and Dan Pires. More importantly, the 1997 Friars will be confident and determined after experiencing success last season. The Friars have all the necessary ingredients to make a run at the 1997 BIG EAST title.