DONALDSON — Ancilla College Men’s Soccer Head Coach James Drzewiecki has announced the 22-player roster that will represent the NJCAA Division 1 program during the 2011 season.
The program finds itself in the midst of a youth movement as 17 of the 22 players listed are freshmen. Despite the lack of collegiate experience in the squad, Drzewiecki is optimistic that his team can not only reach the NJCAA Region 12 semifinals for the third straight year, but also advance beyond.
“Obviously, this is a large freshman class for us and that comes with its own challenges,” said Drzewiecki. “We have two things going for us, however. One is that we have very mature sophomore leadership. It’s probably the best group we’ve had since we started the program. Secondly, this is probably our most seasoned, experienced freshman class we’ve ever brought in, from a club perspective. A lot of these guys have played at the higher levels, and they have come in with professional attitudes and good player IQs.”
Most of the returning experience for the Chargers can be found in goal. Last year’s starter, Alex Howe, returns for his sophomore season after playing every minute in 2010 over 18 matches. Fellow sophomore and Argos graduate Adam Calhoun, the starter in 2009, will return to the lineup after missing the 2010 season due to heart surgery. They will be joined by incoming freshman Pedro Hernandez, a First Team All-District selection for El Dorado High School in El Paso, Tex.
On defense, plenty of new faces will be on display. Freshmen Stephan Hohn, Sam Baez, and Matthew Willinger will all see time at the center back position. Hohn and Baez each played in the U.S. Development Academy League while the 6’4” Willinger was a First Team All-District selection for Gibson Southern High School and played for renowned club Evansville SC.
At outside back, Nic Gunyon will make his long-awaited collegiate debut after overcoming injuries early in his career. Ralph Charles, the lone sophomore at the position, returns after making 11 appearances for Ancilla in 2010. Newcomers on defense include three Florida-based recruits in Courtney Lyn-Kew, Oscar Velasquez, and Kevin Vilcas.
The midfield is packed with talent and is led by returning All-Conference selection and former Jamaica U20 national team call-up Horraine Lewis. Fellow sophomore Stephen Abdelfarag also returns after scoring two goals in seven matches last season and will look to build upon that success in his second year. U.S. Development Academy League players Yordan Rivera and Juan Delgado bring a high level of creativity to the middle of the park. Junior Ballard was an All-Nevada selection his senior year for Las Vegas Western High School while Florida Keys native Manny Perez was an all-conference selection for the Marathon Dolphins. Chesterfield, UK, native Michael Peake is a versatile talent and can play anywhere in the midfield or on the flanks.
The striking corps features four brand new faces for Ancilla. Center forwards Manny Awuku and JaCoby Smith each give Ancilla excellent size and strength up top. Awuku is a 6’3” target striker from Hornchurch, UK, while Smith was an All-Indiana selection in 2010. Texas natives Carlos Ramirez and Mikey Solares will occupy the other striker roles. Ramirez was a two-time First Team All-District selection for Coronado High School while Solares is a former North Texas ODP selection and also a former member of the Dallas Texans Red ’93 squad that was ranked first in the nation.
Calhoun, Lewis, Howe, and Gunyon will serve as team captains. Kirk Weiss will begin his first season an assistant coach with the men’s soccer program. Charger fans are already familiar with Weiss, who has served as an assistant for the men’s basketball program since 2009. Kim Richie will begin her fifth season as the team’s athletic trainer.
The Chargers will open the season on August 26 when they travel to University Center, Mich., to play fellow 2010 NJCAA Region 12 semifinalist Delta College.
They will return to Donaldson for their home opener on September 3 when they host Owens Community College in a rematch of last year’s NJCAA Region 12 quarterfinal, a 3-2 overtime win for Ancilla. Kickoff for that match is at 1 p.m. EST.