The Daily Star
---- — STAFF REPORT
Seniors Will Broomfield, Matthew Robertson and Tim Crawford will lead a Hartwick College men’s soccer squad that returns 15 players from last season.
Coach John Scott said the 2013 edition of the Hawks is the deepest squad he’s had in his four years. The Hawks kick off their Division I schedule at 7 p.m. Friday at Fairfield. Scott, in a media release sent by the school, says expectations are high.
“We’re looking for at least fourth in the MAC,” Scott said of a position in the Mid-American Conference that would get his squad into the conference playoffs. “Our guys are good enough, they work very hard and hopefully we get the reward in the end.”
Hartwick is coming off a 5-10-2 season that included three victories in the Hawks’ final 12 games.
“We were a very young squad last year,” said Scott, who is looking to guide the Hawks to their first winning record since 2009. “We felt good about the quality of players we brought in but half our starting 11 were underclassmen. The positive to that was that our young players gained valuable experience for what lies ahead.”
The Hawks lost four players to graduation. They also brought in nine freshmen, three of whom stand 6-foot-2 or taller.
“If we stay healthy, the coaching staff is going to have a lot of selection decisions, which is very good,” Scott said.
The Hawks appear to be strong in the middle. Experienced central midfielders Broomfield, Chris Walter and Rio Dhat, along with newcomers Jamie O’Grady and Mike Rood, will give Scott plenty of options in the middle.
Rood played five varsity seasons for Susquehanna Valley. He scored three goals in the Sabers’ 5-2 victory over Oneonta High in last season’s Section Four Class B title game.
“We’ve got power, strength and options in the center mid,” Scott said. “Will is back with hopefully his injuries behind him. Chris and Rio are both experienced players for us. O’Grady is a hard-nosed midfielder and Mike is technically sound.”
Walter, who earned all-tournament honors last season at Bradley and the Mayor’s Cup, finished fourth on the team in points. Crawford also could see minutes as an outside midfielder.
Returners Jhevaughn Beckford and David Styles were among Hartwick’s leading scorers last season. Beckford tied Walter for fourth on the team scoring list. Styles was third and led the Hawks with four assists.
Also in the hunt for playing time in the midfield are sophomore Nick Hills, freshman Maurizio Fornerino and junior Nathaniel Horton, who is recovering from a season-ending injury suffered in 2012.
Defensively, veterans Robertson, Jack Miller and Ross MacKinnon return. They’ll be joined by newcomers Kit Tregear, Justin Broome and Kenny Wilson. Tregear stands 6-3 and the smallest of this group is 5-11.
“The spine of our team in the back has height this year,” Scott said.
Crawford, Marc Russell and Dean Fowler lead the forwards. Russell, a sophomore, had four goals and two assists to finish second among Hawks in scoring behind the graduated Cleyon Brown.
Max Walcott, a 6-3 freshman, is among the newcomers up front. Jake Sachse and Alban Zohn also will look to score for the Hawks.
Juniors Mateo Munarriz and Tom Buckner are back in the goal. Munarriz has appeared in 15 games over the last two seasons and has 1.14 goals against average. Buckner has made 20 starts during that span with a 1.70 GGA.
Three of Hartwick’s first eight opponents earned rankings by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. That includes a 7 p.m. game Monday at Syracuse, which is ranked 20th. The Orange, under the direction of former Hartwick player and coach Ian McIntyre, went 14-6 last season and won two games in the NCAA tournament.
Scott replaced McIntyre as the Hawks’ coach.
Hartwick also will host 22nd-ranked Cornell in a Mayor’s Cup game Sept. 8 and play 14th-ranked Tulsa in the SMU Tournament on Sept. 15.
“We face strong opposition one after the other,” Scott said. “The schedule is arduous, but it ensures all of our guys maintain that necessary level of focus for the entire season.”
In the MAC, the Hawks have home games against West Virginia (Oct. 11), Western Michigan (Oct. 19) and Northern Illinois (Nov. 2). Hartwick opens league play at eighth-ranked Akron on Oct. 5. The Hawks also will travel to Buffalo (Oct. 15) and Bowling Green (Oct. 26).