After back-to-back appearances in the Northeast-10 Final the Merrimack College men’s soccer team hits the pitch in 2014 looking to build on the success the program has developed the past two years.
Head Coach Tony Martone begins his 34th season at the helm of the Warriors. In 2013 the team finished 13-4-2 (10-2-1 NE-10). It was the eighth time in the last 10 years that the Warriors posted double-digit victories. It was also the second straight year the program notched at least 10 conference wins.
Seniors Michael Buraczynski (Littleton, Mass.) and Michael Rincon (Medford, Mass.) assume the role of captains in their final years on campus. At his left back position, Buraczynski finished second on the team in goals (3), and helped anchor a backline that allowed only 0.51 goals per game. Rincon spent the majority of last season on the right side of the midfield. He started all 19 games and contributed three assists.
Two-time NE-10 Goalkeeper of the Year Jose Silva (Northborough, Mass.) returns for his senior season. The All-American ranked second in the conference in both goals against average (0.52) and save percentage (.885) as a junior. His 24 career victories are fourth most in program history, while his 0.54 career GAA ranks as the lowest all-time.
Senior Andrew Suttle (Northbrook, Ill.) and freshman Lucas Rezende (Weymouth, Mass.) fill out the rest of the roster at the keeper position. Suttle appeared in one contest last season, and Rezende arrives in North Andover after playing for Weymouth High School.
Buraczynski headlines a group of backs that have plenty of experience playing in Martone’s system. Junior Julio Leon Garcia (Caracas, Venezuela) played in 15 games last season, including 14 starts. Garcia scored one goal and placed eight shots on goal.
Sophomore Joseph Briers (Lincolnshire, England) will play center back this season after starting 17 games last year as a defensive midfielder. Briers accounted for five points (two goals, one assist) and attempted 25 shots.
Also making a position change will be junior Douglas Searl (Westford, Mass.). The former striker will play right back after findign the back of the net four times last season, tied for most on the squad.
Redshirt freshman Josue Ruiz Maya (Madero, Mexico) will be in the mix as well. He played in three games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Rincon enters 2014 as the leader in the midfield. The All-Conference Second Team selection has played in 57 games in his career, compiling three goals and nine assists. The Medford native was also recognized as a NSCAA All-East Region Third Team selection for his performance last year.
Joining Rincon will be senior Ryan Miller (Holden, Mass.). Miller posted career numbers last season, scoring his first career goal and finishing the season with six points. Senior Henrique Etges (Venancio Aires, Brazil) appeared in all 19 games last season, starting 18 of them. Etges scored two goals in 2013, the first two of his career, including one game-winner.
Junior Augusto Silva (Hudson, Mass.) will shift up top for his third year with Merrimack. As a midfielder last season, Silva led the team in scoring with four goals and three assists. The All-Conference Third Team member also tallied two game-winning goals, which ranked second on the squad.
Sophomores Oscar Zepeda Cagide (Jalisco, Mexico) and Alexander Alleyne (Swampscott, Mass.) join Silva among the players contending for time at striker. Zepeda Cagide appeared in 17 contests, totaling three points. Alleyne hit the pitch 18 times, contributing two goals and one helper.
Transfer Jaime Cortes Torres (Seville, Spain) arrives in North Andover from West Virginia Tech. The sophomore played in 16 games last season, totaling 19 points on seven goals and five assists. Cortes Torres expects to be in the mix for playing time at the forward position.
Two freshmen with strong attacking form are Rui Cardoso (Bristol, Conn.) and Juan Meza (Cali, Colombia). Cardoso is expected to provide depth in the midfield, while Meza arrives on campus after suiting up the past four years for the Colegio British School in Colombia.
An 18-game slate will challenge the Warriors this season. Merrimack begins the year hosting the Marriott Kickoff Classic at Martone-Mejail Field. Ten of the 18 games on the schedule will be played at home where the Navy and Gold compiled a 7-1-2 record last year.
The Warriors’ home and season opener is against Caldwell College on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m.
Mike McMahon covers Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report as well as on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN