WALTHAM, Mass. – The Bentley University men's soccer team will kick off its 2013 campaign on Thursday afternoon at 4:00 pm when they travel down to New York to take on Queens (N.Y.), the first of two matches they'll play on the road this week to begin the season.
Following Thursday's match at Queens, who Bentley defeated 1-0 on Sept. 2, 2010 in the last meeting between the two programs, they play at New York Tech on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm.
Head coach Gary Crompton, now in his sixth season at Bentley, will attempt to get his squad to the Northeast-10 playoffs for the sixth straight season, a streak that began in 2008. The only streak that is longer in the program's history is an eight-year run from 1989-1996.
However the Northeast-10 is arguably much stronger now than it was back then. To that point, the conference had four teams ranked in the final 2012 NSCAA Division II national rankings, making this current streak all the more impressive.
Though Bentley returns the majority of its team (21 letter winners), the big loss is that of All-America center-back Weston Zeiner to graduation. Though the team still figures to have a strong back line with veterans Jordan Bridge (Tolland, Conn./Tolland), a senior co-captain, and junior Tom Fitzpatrick (Coventry, Conn./East Catholic) returning. Sophomore Stephen Silva (Suffield, Conn./Conn.) is another returner and started 16 matches at the back last season.
In goal, last season's starter Alex Pilitsis was lost to graduation, have but the Falcons have up to five goalkeepers to potentially call on, including sophomore Jack Blatchford (Douglas, Mass./Douglas), a transfer from the University of Rhode Island.
Offensively Bentley's top returning scorer is junior forward Michael Kahn (Bellevue, Wash./Newport), who is coming off a season where he had three goals and two assists. Two his goals propelled Bentley to wins, over Assumption in overtime 2-1 and Southern New Hampshire 1-0 in overtime, which was ranked No. 12 in Division II at the time.
Other attacking options for Crompton figure to be midfielder and co-captain Justin Cirasola (Oceanside, N.Y./Oceanside), who had two goals and two assists last season. Sophomore forward Marty Ryan (Albany, N.Y./Albany) was named to the Northeast-10 All-Rookie squad and classmate Nick Hoffman (East Brookfield, Mass./Quabbin Regional) registered multiple assists last season.
Bentley gets its Northeast-10 schedule off to a tough start when they host Southern Connecticut on Sept. 14, also the team's home-opener. The Owls were picked fifth in the NE-10 preseason poll. Other key matches for the Falcons see them visit Merrimack, voted third in the preseason poll, four days later on Sept. 18.
Bentley will host Franklin Pierce on Oct.2, the team that knocked them out of the NE-10 playoffs last season. They'll play at Southern New Hampshire Oct. 22, the conference's preseason favorite. The regular season comes to a close on Nov. 1 at New Haven, and the NE-10 playoffs begin Nov. 5 with the top-eight teams qualifying.