NORTON, Mass. - The Wheaton College men's soccer team enters 2010 with great anticipation and urgency. The Lyons begin their campaign with the largest senior class in the program's 21-year history, as those 12 players are seeking Wheaton's first NCAA Tournament appearance and conference championship since 2007.
"We're returning just about every player who impacted us last season," said 17th-year head coach Matt Cushing. "And we've added, so we don't miss a beat from a team that won 18 games. But we still haven't made the tournament or won the league the last two years. We're chasing teams in our conference to accomplish what we want to do."
The Lyons posted an impressive 18-4-1 record in 2009, losing each of their four games by a single goal, and advanced to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament title game after going 5-1 during the regular season.
"This year's team has set high goals for themselves," said Cushing, "and if they don't achieve those, they won't deem their time here successful. And that's really not fair, so it's up to us to define a successful season. We expect to compete for the NEWMAC Championship. That is our primary goal, and it's been difficult. The league has improved, so it's going to be one heck of a race for the championship."
Senior co-captain, four-year starter and National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American Yuri Moreira (Marlboro, Mass./Northfield Mount Hermon School) leads this year's 28-member team. A forward, three-year captain and last year's NEWMAC Player of the Year, Moreira ranks second in program history in goals and seventh in points. In 2009, he paced the Lyons with 16 goals, 34 points and seven game-winners.
Moreira will be joined up front by senior transfer Alex Redding (Newton, Mass./Northfield Mount Hermon School), senior Josh Solomon (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro Regional) and sophomore Max Swanson (Lexington, Mass./Lexington). Redding played three seasons at Big East school Providence College, Solomon finished second on the team in goals, assists and points as an all-league player in 2009, and Swanson was third in goals and points.
At the top of the depth chart as midfielders are senior Kyle Sye (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro Regional), juniors Pablo Mena (San Salvador, El Salvador/American School of El Salvador) and Chris Thomas (Cumberland, Maine/Phillips Academy), and sophomore Cecil Jeffrey (Framingham, Mass./Rivers School). Jeffrey and Sye were named to the all-conference team a year ago.
Senior Jake Wagner (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury Regional), sophomore Gabe Reich (Brookline, Mass./Beaver Country Day School) and freshman Adam Sholi (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) are vying for time in the midfield, while senior Tristan Back (London, England/King Alfred School) and freshman Wyll Everett (Middletown Springs, Vt./Mill River Union) provide depth.
Senior co-captain, four-year starter and returning all-region and all-conference player David Ferriero (Medway, Mass./Medway) anchors a Wheaton defense that allowed just 18 goals last season. Like Moreira, Ferriero is in his third year as a Lyon captain. Junior Rory McGonigle (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) is making a strong push for time at center back.
Senior David Winrow (South Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) and sophomores Howard Manly (Ayer, Mass./Lawrence Academy) and David Turina (North Yarmouth, Maine/Northfield Mount Hermon School) are competing for starting jobs on the outside.
Rounding out the defensive corps are seniors Dean Hollands (Scituate, R.I./Wheeler School) and Steven Zerbini (Wethersfield, Conn./Wethersfield), juniors Nick Addeo (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury Regional) and Matt Flaherty (Westlake Village, Calif./Worcester Academy), and freshman Tucker Myhre (Weybridge, Vt./Worcester Academy). Hollands played for the Lyons in 2007 and 2008.
Cushing has the good fortune of welcoming back two goalies for their fourth year with the program. Senior Chris Smart (Brookfield, Conn./Brookfield) has secured the starting job, while classmate Stefan Viragh (Columbus, Ohio/Wellington School), who was injured part of last season, will serve as his backup. Smart went 4-0 with a 0.70 goals against average and two shutouts as a junior.
Wheaton gets underway this weekend at the two-day Adidas Kick-Off Classic on Keefe Field. The Lyons host Curry College on Saturday and Rutgers University at Camden on Sunday. Highlighting the schedule are back-to-back games at third-ranked Williams College on September 26 and 14th-ranked Wesleyan University three days later.