WALTHAM, Mass. – The Bentley University men's soccer team will get its 2014 season underway on Thursday when they play the first match of the Marriott Kickoff Classic against Dominican (N.Y.) in North Andover, Mass. Match time is set for 4:00 pm.
With a roster that features 17 returning players and eight starters, the Falcons will attempt to make the postseason out the competitive Northeast-10 Conference for the seventh straight season.
"The outlook for our season is bright," said seventh-year head coach Gary Crompton. "We have a number returning players that will impact our line-up including All-Conference players Scott Levy and Marty Ryan. They were a great 1-2 punch for us last year and provided a lot of important goals."
Junior Jack Blatchford (Douglas, Mass./Douglas) stepped in as the starter after the third match of last season and did not relinquish the job the rest of the way. The six-foot Blatchford, who started his career at the University of Rhode Island, is expected to open the season as the No. 1 keeper. Last season Blatchford made 48 total saves in 14 starts, while helping Bentley keep three clean sheets. Those efforts landed him on the Northeast-10 All-Rookie team.
Three starters return in this group, including the center-back pairing of senior Tom Fitzpatrick (Coventry, Conn./East Catholic) and junior Joe Avery (Schenectady, N.Y./Mohonasen). Fitzpatrick started all 16 matches he dressed for last season, while Avery has started every match in his two previous seasons.
Junior Stephen Silva (Suffield, Conn./Suffield) is expected to hold down one of the fullback positions while offering a threat going forward. Crompton also expects several newcomers to force their way into the lineup which will, "create a healthy competition for places and help us get the most out of all of our players," he said.
Ryan was named second team All-Conference last season after notching nine assists, which led the Northeast-10. Five of his nine assists had Levy on the receiving end. Peruvian midfielder Jose Tirado (Lima, Peru) notched two goals and five points as a freshman last season and could take on a bigger role this season.
Junior Nick Hoffman (East Brookfield, Mass./Quabbin Regional) started 12 matches last season, and sophomore Forrest Scaringe (Cohoes, N.Y./Christian Brothers Academy) made 14 appearances in midfield last season.
Levy will lead the line for Bentley after knocking in a team-leading eight goals last season. That total was third in the NE-10 and earned him first team All-Conference honors. Junior Nicolas Ucros (Guatemala City, Guatemala) is another option up front after scoring three goals in his debut season. Newcomers such as Sean Sullivan (Suffield, Conn./Suffield) and Silmar Bueno (Framingham, Mass./Beaver Country Day School) will add to the attacking options.
Bentley plays its home-opener against New York Tech in a non-conference match on Sept. 10, and they play its Northeast-10 opener against Southern Connecticut on the road on Sept. 13. The Falcons then play local rivals Merrimack and Stonehill in two of the next three matches, the Warriors at home on Sept. 16 and the Skyhawks on the road Sept. 24. The match against Merrimack will be a rematch of last season's Northeast-10 Quarterfinal pairing between the two programs.
Bentley plays three of its final four matches at home, beginning with a visit from the defending national champions Southern New Hampshire on Oct. 22. Adelphi on Oct. 25 and New Haven to close out the regular season on Oct. 31 make up the remainder of that stretch.
The Northeast-10 playoffs get underway on Nov. 4 with the top-eight teams from the regular season standings qualifying.