In 2011, the Elms College men's soccer team will field a squad that boasts nine returners and nine newcomers who will provide a tremendous balance of experience and athleticism as the Blazers look to climb to new heights.
Third-year head coach Chris Streeter guides a team that is anchored by three seniors – goalkeeper Ryan Sullivan (Agawam, Mass.), midfielder Adam Schnopp (Pittsfield, Mass.) and forward Jonathan Coyne (East Longmeadow, Mass.) – who are returning to the pitch for their senior campaigns.
Sullivan has amassed 274 saves between the pipes through the first three seasons of his career and is just 17 shy of setting the program's all-time saves record.
Junior midfielder Tavish Leland (Bridgton, Maine) and classmate Michael Peloquin (Chicopee, Mass.), who will see action in goal and on the pitch, round out the Blazers' upperclassmen and will provide valuable experience and leadership to Elms' contingent of new players.
Here is a look at how the 2011 men's soccer squad breaks down by position:
The Blazers' striking corps is built on speed, athleticism, and some experience in the form of sophomores Ziggy Jonathan (Springfield, Mass.) and Robert Watson (Enfield, Conn.). Jonathan found the back of the net four times during his debut season, while Watson added a goal in 2010.
Jonathan and Watson will be accompanied by freshmen Joseph Coleman (Easthampton, Mass.) and Joelle Reyes (Lynn, Mass.) as well as Anthony Nitri (Feeding Hills, Mass.) who will see action in both the offensive and defensive thirds of the field.
Smooth transition from the defensive side of the pitch to the attacking portion of field is essential for success and midfielders are the catalyst for such transition and the Blazers will rely heavily on the experience of Schnopp, Coyne, Leland and sophomore Adam O'Grady (Somers, Conn.) to accomplish this transition.
Sophomore Brendan Reed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) leads a group defenders that will make their collegiate debuts in 2011. This inexperienced yet talented group of stoppers features freshmen Thomas Rivers (Hope Mills, N.C.), Conor Rieker (Agawam, Mass.), Ahmed Kafel (Foxborough, Mass.) and Leonardo Barrios (Lynn, Mass.) who will each gain an abundance of experience this season.
Sullivan turned away a single-season career-high 107 shots last season and his total of 274 saves during his first three seasons ranks him second all-time among Elms' goalkeepers. One of three seniors on the team, Sullivan will lead the Blazers by example with his aggressive style of play between the pipes.
After competing in 15 games during his freshman campaign, Peloquin, who primarily saw action as a forward, will see time defending the net the net this season as Sullivan's reserve.
Each season, Elms' slate features contests against local rivals such as Westfield State University and Springfield College in addition to competing against New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) member institutions. In 2011, Regis College joins the fray as the ninth team in the league.
The Blazers will play five of their nine home contests at Leary Field during the month of September, including new conference member Regis College on Sept. 27.
In 2011, Elms' men's soccer team will rely on a stellar combination of speed, athleticism and experience as it embarks on its quest to reach the NECC postseason tournament and win the conference title. With a host of talented players, the Blazers take to the field ready to set the tone for a thrilling season.