August 22, 2012
A MONMOUTH UNDERTAKING
Hawks aim for NEC title, NCAAs once again
The Monmouth University men open their 2012 season when it travels to Towson, Md., to take on Towson University on Friday.
The Hawks are coming off a successful pre-season in which they defeated nationally ranked No. 20 Northwestern, 3-1, and tied Bucknell, 0-0. They look to continue a dynasty that has seen seven consecutive Northeast Conference regular season championships and four NCAA Division I Tournament appearances.
Towson returns most of a young squad that struggled through a 3-11-2 season in the Colonial Athletic Association, which sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament last season.
Breaking down Towson
Towson returns the players responsible for 19 of 20 goals scored in 2011, as well as 16 of 20 assists from a year ago. Leading the way are top goal scorers Christian Hofer (five) and Olakunle Banjo (ffour), while Enrico Skrypzak tied graduated senior Javier Bermudez Roa for the team lead in assists with four. The lone returning goalkeeper is Nathan Moran, who played 126:41 over four games last season, accumulating a 2.84 goals-against average and .600 saves percentage.
Return of the MAC
Senior midfielder Ryan Clark (Freehold, N.J.) has been named to the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List. The award is the highest individual award in intercollegiate soccer presented annually in January. The list will be narrowed down to 15 on Nov. 29, three on Dec. 6 and the winners will be announced on Jan. 11. Clark’s inclusion on the list follows the selections of RJ Allen, Max Hamilton and Anthony Vazquez a year ago.
Rubbing elbows with the nation's best
A fixture in the national polls over the last several years, the Hawks are receiving votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division I rankings.
McCourt among the country's best coaches
Monmouth coach Robert McCourt enters the season fourth in winning percentage among active Division I coaches with at least five years of experience. McCourt’s .708 winning percentage trails only Akron’s Caleb Porter (.824), Connecticut’s Ray Reid (.770) and Dave Masur of St. John’s (.718).
Clark and company are back for more
In addition to Clark, the Hawks return five other starters from a year ago, including fellow captains Alex Blackburn (Natick, Mass.) and Joseph Schmid (Kingston, Pa.). Blackburn finished 10th in the nation in goals-against average (0.61) in taking over for Bryan Meredith as a junior. Schmid was instrumental in the midfield for the Hawks with three goals and five assists. Also returning are sophomores Derek Luke (Bridgewater, N.J.), Andres Penfold (Scarsdale, N.Y.) and Matt Jeffery (Freehold, N.J.), each of whom assumed starting roles as freshmen.
Strong incoming class
The Hawks welcome arguably their most talented incoming recruiting class with 10 new players in 2012, including six freshmen, one sophomore and three juniors.
The junior class features three foreign imports, two from Ghana and another from France. Countrymen Emmanuel Senyah Agyemang (Kumasi, Ghana) and Edney Derrick (Kumasi, Ghana) join Francois “Paco” Navarro (Paris, France) in comprising the junior class, while Ryan McNamara (West Nyack, N.Y.) joins the Hawks as a sophomore after leading New Hampshire with four goals as a freshman. Beginning their collegiate careers as freshmen with the Hawks are Corey Atanda (Belle Mead, N.J.), David Camacho (Heredia, Costa Rica), Jared Dublin (Westwood, N.J.), Tomas Penfold (Scarsdale, N.Y.), Dan Pizzimenti (Manalapan, N.J.) and Zach Zurita (Stratford, Conn.).