SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) released their fall preseason rankings for men's soccer and the Endicott Gulls claimed a seventh place ranking among the league's 10 institutions. The poll was voted upon by the conference head coaches and announced this afternoon by CCC Commissioner Gregg M. Kaye.
Defending champions, Nichols (91), were predicted to repeat as title-winners with five first place votes. The Bison barely edged Western New England (89) who earned four first place votes. Salve Regina (77) came in third followed by Roger Williams (71) who received the final first place vote. Gordon (69) and Wentworth (43) took fifth and sixth place in front of Endicott with Curry (33), University of New England (23), and Eastern Nazarene (14) rounding out the rest of the standings.
Under the guidance of new leadership from first year head coach Joe Calabrese, the Endicott men’s soccer team aims to climb the ranks of the newly realigned CCC in the 2011 season after reaching the quarterfinals of the conference tournament last year.
Coach Calabrese is no stranger to the CCC, having spent three seasons as an assistant for Western New England from 2005-08. The Golden Bears racked up 47 wins and three conference championships during that time period before he moved on to take the helm of the Utica men’s soccer program. Utica, under Calabrese’s direction, set program records in wins (12), goals scored (55), points (153), and reached the semifinals of the Empire 8 Conference Tournament in just his second season.
Coach Calabrese expects that a strong core of returning players, including senior captain Chris Serpa, and a fresh crop of newcomers eager to contribute will equate to a second consecutive berth into the CCC Tournament for the Blue and Green.
In 2010, after starting the conference schedule 0-3, the Gulls went 6-3-1 over the final 10 games against league opponents to qualify for the conference tournament for the first time since 2006. Endicott, however, ran into top-seed and eventual champions Nichols in the opening round, falling to the Bison 2-0 on the road. The loss ended Endicott’s season at 6-10-2, but the 2010 season was a giant leap forward towards the team’s lone goal of a deep playoff run in 2011.
Four of Endicott’s top goal scorers from a season ago, including team leader Alex Elia, rejoin the Gulls for another year on the pitch. Elia, a sophomore forward, scored all four of his goals against conference foes. Two of those tallies were game-winning goals, including one on the final game of the regular season against New England College which catapulted the Endicott back into postseason play.
Joining Elia up top from Endicott’s returning cast of players will be senior Jared Rizzo and junior Robbie DiTommaso. Rizzo was on pace for career-high numbers in 2010 when an ACL injury sidelined the Gulls attacker for the remainder of the season after just 13 matches played. DiTommaso impressed in his sophomore campaign with two goals and two assists which came in four separate Endicott victories. One of DiTommaso’s assists was recorded on October 13th in Endicott’s benchmark win of the season, a double overtime victory over Curry with only 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
At midfield, junior Craig Jameson and sophomore Bobby Durben are expected to be impactful players in the upcoming season. In 2010, Jameson scored a goal and assisted on another in a 2-0 shutout over Anna Maria on October 2nd. Earlier in the season, he netted Endicott’s lone goal in a hard-fought 2-1 loss to University of New England on September 21st. Durben, who moved back-and-forth between midfield and defense in his rookie season, will be asked to move into a more offensive role. He assisted on two goals a season ago.
Endicott’s back line features the Gulls captain, senior Chris Serpa, and fellow senior Gregory Capece. Both players will be expected to improve upon Endicott’s 1.49 goals against average which ranked in the middle of the conference last season. Both players had a hand in some offensive production last year with Serpa tallying one goal with two assists and Capece knocking in two goals.
Coach Calabrese anticipates that five newcomers to the Endicott men’s soccer program will make an immediate impact on the field this fall. Pietro Gaudiano, a freshman forward out of Brookline High School, comes to Endicott after leading his high school squad in both goals and assists. Brookline’s Most Valuable Player, Gaudiano’s leaping ability and 6-foot 1-inch stature gives the Gulls a strong presence in the box on headers and can be a goal scorer with his back to the net. Two-time All-State defender Jed Magnusson from Kingston, New Hampshire, is also expected to make his presence known this fall. Magnusson offers a strong, physical presence that the Blue and Green will need this season in the highly competitive CCC. Ryan D’Amico, an athletic sophomore transfer from Utica College, is versatile on the pitch and can play as a striker, midfielder or a back. A role player at Utica, D’Amico figures to be an impact player for the Gulls in 2011.
Two first-year goalkeepers, Aaron Kanter and Alex Jorge, will join veteran Daniel Higgins between the posts in 2011. Kanter, a Medfield High School graduate, was a Tri-Valley All-Star in 2010 and a Massachusetts State Cup finalist. Billerica Memorial High School graduate, Alex Jorge, was a part of three Merrimack Valley Conference Championships for Billerica and earned two Merrimack Valley All-Conference player nods. Coach Calabrese notes that both freshmen are excellent off the line, reads flighted service well and have good distribution on punts and goal kicks. Higgins is entering his junior season with the Blue and Green and sports a career average of 1.79 goals against with 126 saves and seven shutouts in 34 matches played.
Endicott begins their 2011 season on September 3rd at NCAA Tournament qualifier Salem State, a team they tied 1-1 through two overtimes last season. The Gulls open the gates of Endicott Stadium on September 5th for their home opener against Bridgewater State, semifinalists in the ECAC New England Tournament in 2010. Endicott also looks forward to several crucial CCC matches including Western New England at home on September 10th, Gordon at home on September 24th, and 2010 conference champions Nichols at Endicott Stadium on October 15th.
2011 CCC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
Western New England