NEW PALTZ, NY — The 2003 SUNY New Paltz men’s soccer team established some momentum at the end of last season with two shutout wins in their last three games. Despite a 5-13-1 record a year ago, 12th year Head Coach Stuart Robinson will lead a team that has nine returning players, including seven juniors and seniors. Their experience should be a valuable asset to the Hawks this fall.
Senior forward/co-captain Mario Lavacca (Port Washington, NY) has assumed much of the offensive load since his arrival three years ago. Lavacca, who finished sixth in the SUNYAC in scoring last season, earned second team all-league honors for the second straight year and led the Hawks in goals (12) and points (27). His output last season pushed his career numbers to 66 points on 30 goals and six assists.
Lavacca will try to duplicate his fine 2002 season along with several players who are ready to assume a more prominent role. Junior midfielder/co-captain Bryan Smith (Washingtonville, NY) recorded eight points on two goals and four assists while junior defenseman Mike Dodge (Holbrook, NY) notched seven points on two goals and three assists a season ago.
Junior midfielders Chris Daly (Washingtonville, NY) and Tom McCauley (Holbrook, NY) and sophomore midfielder/defenseman Colin Hillman (Trumansburg, NY) can provide on offensive spark for the Hawks. Last season, Daly recorded five points (2-1-5) while McCauley and Hillman each registered a goal.
The anchors of the Hawks defense are senior Chris Leslie (Walkill, NY) and sophomore Ryan Shanks (Sound Beach, NY). Leslie and Shanks keyed a defensive unit that allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of their 19 games last season.
The goalkeeper position will be manned by junior Brendan Morris (Hopewell Junction, NY). Morris joins New Paltz after playing for Dutchess Community College in 2002 and he looks to make an immediate impact between the posts taking over for four-year starter Kevin Smith.
Junior Alan Kuusisto (Pelham, MA) is the only returning goalkeeper for the Hawks from last season and he started one game in 2002.
Robinson secured several key recruits who are ready to make an immediate impact. The forwards are freshmen Daniel Libardi (Canaan, NY), Chris Pendergast (Miller Place, NY), and junior Diogo Silva (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). The new faces along the midfield are freshmen Gregg Spinelli (Highland, NY), Joe Fabian (Selden, NY), Chris Smith (Washingtonville, NY), Garrett Munro (Sidney, NY), Brian Siergiej (Oceanside, NY), and sophomore Matt Soranno (Sound Beach, NY). The defense will have a new look with the additions of freshman Jeff Paine (Highland, NY), sophomore John Paul Cannucciari (Skaneateles, NY), and juniors Bobby Monahan (Holtsville, NY), and Christian Jorgensen. Freshman Jake Lammers (Highland, NY) will be challenging for playing time at both the midfield and goalkeeper positions.
With only five of their 17 games at home this season, New Paltz will have to play much better on the road this season. The Hawks open up their 2003 schedule on the road against Mount Saint Mary on September 3 at 7:00 pm. Their first home game is against Kings Point on September 6 at 2:00 pm.