Written by Andrew Capitelli (SJC-LI Sports Information)
Patchogue, NY|Entering his second season with the St. Joseph's College (L.I.) men's soccer team, head coach Alex Mendolia looks to further implement a possession style of play and contend for a Skyline Conference title in 2017.
Mendolia's side produced a 6-5 regular-season conference record in 2016 and earned the fifth seed in the conference tournament. There, the Golden Eagles were defeated by fourth-seeded Farmingdale State in the first round.
A total of 10 players will not return from last year's squad, including Skyline All-Conference Second-Team selections Brian O'Sullivan and Eddie Whalen. Justin Heredia, who led the team with five goals last season, will also not return.
Therefore Mendolia will lean on an upper-classmen contingent of Robert Gomez (D, senior), Kyle Conway (M, junior) and Justin Busto (D/F, senior). Gomez will be tabbed to organize the backline from central defense, while Conway and Busto afford Mendolia experience in the middle of the park and down the flanks, respectively.
Sophomore forward Rayneri Ruiz, who bagged four goals in 17 matches as a freshman last season, will be the target man for a team that averaged 1.61 goals-per-game last season.
Among the 14 newcomers Mendolia has enlisted are junior Marc Ceruti, a Suffolk County Community College transfer, and sophomore Damian Duda. Look for Ceruti to pair with Gomez in central defense and for Duda to play alongside Ruiz up top.
Opening the season at home on Saturday, September 2 vs. Brooklyn College, the Golden Eagles were selected to finish fourth in the Skyline Preseason Coaches Poll on August 29.
Men's Soccer Coaches Poll - Points
1. Mount Saint Mary (8) - 79
2. Farmingdale State (1) - 71
3. Old Westbury - 64
4. St. Joseph's-Long Island (1) - 61
5. Maritime - 43
6. Mount Saint Vincent - 40
7. St. Joseph's-Brooklyn - 32
8. Yeshiva - 26
9. Purchase - 24
10. Sarah Lawrence – 10