The Friar men's soccer team embarks upon the 2006 season after one the most successful seasons in Friar Soccer history. Coach Chaka Daley's
Friars finished the 2005 season with a 7-4-9 mark, which represented a 9.5 game improvement from 2004 and the 10th best turnaround in NCAA history. The Friars also advanced to the conference semifinal of the BIG EAST tournament, for the 2nd time in three years, where they tied nationally ranked South Florida before being eliminated in a penalty kick shootout. Providence then earned its second ever NCAA Tournament playoff berth, and first ever NCAA tournament victory by beating 13th ranked Hofstra University. Unfortunately, their season came to an end when the team was defeated in the second round by the 2nd ranked team in the NCAA tournament, the North Carolina Tar Heels. With a solid core of returning players and a strong incoming class, the NSCAA Division I New England Region Coach of the Year, Chaka Daley
believes Providence Men's soccer has the potential to continue to be competitive regionally and nationally for many years to come.
Forwards: Returning 1, Lost 3, Newcomers 3
Coach Daley enters 2006 with some youth leading the Friars' offense. Losing two influential seniors to graduation leaves only sophomore Timothy Ritter (Weston, Mass.) as the sole returnee with experience as a Friar up front. Fortunately for the Friars, lone returnee Ritter proved to fit in nicely during his freshman year, finishing the season second on the team in points with five goals and six assists for 16 points. He will be looked upon to make a major impact on the team in his second season as he has the ability to be extremely dangerous in the BIG EAST Conference.
Joining Ritter up front will be Hadrien Toure (Lyon, France), a transfer from Boston College. Toure played two seasons with the Eagles, tallying 13 points on four goals and five assists in his sophomore season in the ACC. The native of France will undoubtedly add quality, experience and offense to the Friar frontline. Toure participated in the 2003 U-20 World Cup with the Malian National team. Toure was also selected to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council All-Star team in 2004, while attending Worcester Academy.
Providence also picked up two solid newcomers up front in Jonathan Medcalf (Tulsa, Okla.) and Benjamin Wexler (Minnetonka, Minn.). Medcalf definitely has the ability to score goals as he set his high school's career record for goals with 56 while leading his team to the 2006 6A Championship title in his senior year. This 6-foot-1 freshman was named all-district three times and all-conference twice, as well as being named "Mr. Tulsa World" for the best high school player in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Fellow freshman Benjamin Wexler also will be looked to for goals throughout his career as a Friar. He also set his high school's record for goals (64) and assists (40). Wexler was voted All Midwest Region and an All-Metro Player his senior year, as well as All-State and All-Conference for three seasons.
Midfield: Returning 6, Lost 4, Newcomers 6
The Friar midfield returns a relatively experienced class of players who will get their opportunity to produce this season. The midfield is highlighted by junior Ryan Maduro (Bristol, R.I.) who ranked third on the team in points last season with 14 on four goals and six assists. In 2005, Maduro was named All-BIG EAST Third Team, All-New England, and College Soccer News National Player of the Week (Sept. 26). Maduro must help fill the gap left by some influential graduating seniors.
Upperclassmen leadership must also come from senior, and tri-captain, Joseph Weill (Merrick, N.Y.). Weill started every game for the Friars in 2005 and he has played in every game in his career as a Friar. Last season, he scored the first goal in a 2-1 victory over Cincinnati on November 2, starting the team's run to the NCAA tournament. His experience will be invaluable to the group. Also returning for PC are juniors Alex Bury (Shrewsbury, Mass.), Michael Narciso (Livingston, N.J.) and Matt O'Donnell (Armonk, N.Y.). Bury has played in 25 games over the past two seasonS, registering three points on one goal and one assist, while O'Donnell has made appearances in 13 games over his first two seasons with the Friars. Narciso was a walk-on last season and played some valuable minutes for the Friars. The three juniors will be looked upon to contribute even greater things this season. The returning members of the Friar midfield combined for six goals and seven assists in the 2005 run.
Joining the Friar midfield this season are four freshmen and two transfer students. Freshman Jeffrey Romig (Metairie, La.) comes to Providence after a successful career at Jesuit High School, being awarded All-Metro and All-District Offensive MVP. He also was a member of the Louisiana State ODP Team. Joining Romig is Sean Bahktiari (Hampstead, N.H.), a Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star his sophomore, junior, and senior years as well as the CCHS Offensive Player of the Year in 2004. First Team All-State, All-Monmouth County, and All-Shore midfielder Justin Kahle (Oceanport, N.J.) also joins the Friars as a freshman this year. Rounding out the freshman class is Florida native Andrew Brown (Fort Meyers, Fl.), a four year letter-winner at Bishop Verot High School, garnering such awards as All-Southwest Florida (2004, 2005), 2005 Senior South Florida Regional All-Star, and 2004 Dairy Farm Player of the Year Finalist. All four freshmen should provide some quality depth in midfield and some newcomers could be pushing for a place in the first 11 before the end of their first season.
Transferring to Providence College this fall are Kyle Pacheco (University of Maine), and Brendan McKeague (Coastal Carolina University). Pacheco (Smithfield, R.I.) joins the Friars after one season with the Black Bears, playing in 15 games and scoring one goal. The Rhode Island native was a member of the state champion team from LaSalle Academy, and he was an All-State selection in 2004. Brendan McKeague also joins Providence as a transfer student, red-shirting one season at Coastal Carolina University. McKeague (Alexandria, Va.) comes to the Friars with some college experience after his freshmen season. He has also participated with the Virginia ODP Program.
Defense: Returning 3, Lost 2, Newcomers 3
This season the Friar defense looks to rebound after the losses of their two experienced fullbacks to graduation. Returning for the Friars this season are senior tri-captain Scott Hankard (Glastonbury, Conn.), junior Matt Otte (East Lyme, Conn.), sophomore Kevin Neumen (Miller Place, N.Y.) and sophomore Kyle LeDuc (Topsham, Maine). Hankard and Otte started in 20 games last season and both players will be key to the Friars' defensive success this season. Their experience, attitude, and ability to lead will be important in shutting down the opponents this season. Hankard has played in over 50 games in a Friar uniform, providing the sound experience Providence will look to this fall. In the 2005 season, Otte made siginificant imporvement. The experience gained last season will assist him greatly as he will be relied upon to be a leader in central defense. Neumen looks to build upon his first season as a Friar, in which he appeared in 12 games, starting five, and registering one goal in a 1-1 tie against hometown rival Brown on October 11. Neumen played in some significant games and situations in 2005, and he will get the opportunity to play significant minutes this season. After a positive spring season, LeDuc will be looked to add some more depth and stability in the center back position.
Joining Providence in the back this fall are freshmen Toussaint McClure (Atlanta, Ga.) and Issam Sawtarie (Bethany, W.Va.). McClure was a member of the Georgia High School Senior All-Star Soccer Team, and was chosen to the Atlanta Journal Constitution All Area First Team in 2004, 2005, and 2006. McClure also won the Gatorade High School MVP Award in 2004 and 2006. Joining McClure as a freshman defender is Issam Sawtarie, the 2005 West Virginia Offensive Player of the Year and All-State Team member. Issam will be converted into a defender in college, as his athleticism and toughness should give him an opportunity to play early in his college career.
Goalkeepers: Returning 4, Lost 0, Newcomers 0
Providence welcomes back a veteran class of goalkeepers this fall. Leading the way for the Friars is senior Chris Konopka (Toms River, N.J.). Konopka played in every minute of every game last season, finishing with 2020:38 minutes in goal, making 89 saves and allowing 21 goals for a .94 goals against average and an .809 save percentage. Konopka was BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week (Sept. 19) and ECAC Division I Goalkeeper of the Week (Sept. 20). Konopka recorded six shutouts throughout his 20 games in goal for the Friars. He established a number of Friar records last season, including most minutes played. Also returning for the Friars are senior Michael King (Ashland, Mass.) and sophomores Brian Lee (Hillsborough, N.J.) and Timothy Murray (Haverhill, Mass.).
In the upcoming 2006 season, Coach Daley and the Friars hope to build on what was established in the successful 2005 season while continuing to make strides towards capturing their first ever BIG EAST title. They also hope to create some consistency within their program by being recognized regionally and/or nationally every season. With some experienced veterans leading the way combined with a large, hungry, freshman class, and a 2005 NCAA tournament fresh in their minds, the Providence College Men's Soccer program looks forward to an eventful and exciting 2006 season.