Aug. 12, 2008
By Michelle Bradley
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross men's soccer team enters the 2008 season coming off an impressive 2007 campaign in which it posted an overall record of 8-6-4 and won the Patriot League regular season title with a 4-0-3 record. The championship was the fifth in the program's history.
Eight returning starters will be the core of this year's team. The Crusaders have 22 total returning letterwinners and welcome six incoming freshmen.
"What is unique about this particular group is their character," said head coach Elvis Comrie. "They have tremendous collective character and great team spirit. There is obviously talent with the guys that can make a difference on the field, but the most significant difference is their character."
Much of the team's success last season came from sophomore Kyle Miller, who was named the 2007 Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Miller led the team in points (16) and goals (seven), in addition to recording two assists. Miller's experience from last year will be expected to carry over to this year's group up front.
Sophomore Alex Schweitzer will also be expected to continue his efforts on offense. During his debut season, he appeared in nine games and scored two goals, including one game-winner. Junior Wesley Laine will also look to contribute up front for the Crusaders.
Senior tri-captain Andreas Andrews led the team in the middle in 2007 as he chipped in with five goals and one assist for 11 points in 15 starts. Also returning is sophomore Jon Werth, who gained a wealth of experience during his first season. Werth tallied three goals and four assists for 10 points last year.
Other top returnees are sophomores Matt Beckley, Philippe Candido and Tom Wilhelm, who will get the opportunity to showcase their abilities in the midfield that they displayed last year during their first season with Holy Cross.
Holy Cross returns all of its starters from last year's defense, including senior tri-captain Jerry Dickinson, who will be the source of its success after starting in 15 games last season. Senior tri-captain Alejandro Melean will also add to the strength of the Crusaders' defense. In addition to his play as a defender last year, Melean had success up the field as well, scoring four goals and tallying an assist for nine points.
Sophomore Tom Van Grinsven also looks to be a key contributor for the Crusaders, after appearing in 10 games and making five starts last season. Senior Peter Siclari, junior Peter Whooley, and sophomores James Imbriani and Henry Hulick will also contribute to the Crusaders' outstanding defense.
Returning in goal for Holy Cross is junior goalkeeper Thomas Booth. Last year, Booth played his first full season as the Crusaders' starting goalkeeper, appearing in 17 games. In 2007, Booth posted a 7-6-4 record with five shutouts and a .768 save percentage.
"With each game, he got much better," said Comrie. "He gave us a definite sense of security back there that we did not have the past several years."
To maintain the toughness Holy Cross showed in and out of the Patriot League last year, the Crusaders will face their hardest schedule in 10 years. The 2008 schedule includes five non-conference games against schools which took part in the 2008 NCAA Tournament: Boston College, Central Connecticut, Harvard, Massachusetts and Providence. "It is certainly going to be a challenge, but it is going to make us better," said Comrie.
The Patriot League will be competitive as always, including tremendous improvements with the introduction of scholarships and full-time assistant coaches into the league.
"The league has certainly improved, and the coaches are working even harder now on the recruiting trails," said Comrie. "This past year it was very obvious that the league had improved tremendously, in particular with the overall quality of the players that we came up against."