|Conference: Atlantic 10|
|Coach: Jim McElderry – Sixteenth Season|
|2017 Record: 14-6-3 – 5-2-1 in conference play|
|2017 Final Season Ending Rank: 11 United Soccer Coaches. 9 College Soccer News|
|Key Personnel Losses from the 2017 Team: Midfielders Jannik Loebe and Eric Ohlendorf, defenders Matthew Lewis, Chris Bazzini and Vincenzo Zuccala.|
Five Year Win Total:
|2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed: 33 scored, 22 allowed|
|2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed Per Game: 1.43 scored, 0.87 allowed|
|2017 Key Statistic: Eleven shutouts|
Background: Fordham has appeared in the NCAA Tournament a total of four times (1996, 2014, 2016 and 2017). The Rams won the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament and the conference's automatic berth in 1996, 2014 and 2016. In 2017 Fordham was awared an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Fordham is coming off an amazing 2017 season during which the standard of excellence for the program was forever raised. In 2017 the Rams recorded a program best fourteen wins. They recorded their first ever win in the NCAA Tournament when they topped St. Francis Brooklyn 1-0 in overtime. They then went on an improbable and magical run that included a 1-0 win over number eleven seed Virginia in Charlottesville and a victory over number six seed Duke in Durham in a contest that was decided by a penalty kick shootout. The Rams' historical season then came to an end in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament when they were edged 2-1 by number three seed North Carolina.
Forward Janos Loebe was named a 2017 Third Team All-American by College Soccer News and an Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team member. Defender Matthew Lewis was named the 2017 Atlantic Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Lewis, midfielder Jannik Loebe and goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu were also named Atlantic-10 All-Conference First Team members. Defender Joergen Oland was named to the Atlantic-10 All-Conference Second Team while midfielders Andron Kagramanyan and Jacob Bohm were named to the Atlantic-10 All-Rookie Team.
|Number Starters Slated to Return in 2018: Six|
Coach McElderry stated, "With a large graduating class, we as a staff have worked hard to bring in a mix of new players with experience in the college game and incoming freshmen with a lot of potential. This group has players in all positions with the ability to come in and compete immediately for time."
Johannes Pieles – Forward – Langenbach, Germany – J.C.F. GutsMuths – A junior transfer from Syracuse where he scored a total of nine goals and contriubuted a total of eight assists during two seasons.
Sameer Fathazada – Midfielder – Toronto, Ontario – David and Mary Thomson Collegiate – A sophomore transfer from Oral Roberts.
Rocco Capozza – Defender – Parsippany, New Jersey – Seton Hall Prep – Third Team All-State and First Team All-Conference selection. Played for NJSCA Academy and Parsippany SC.
Conrado Duhour – Defender – Miami, Florida – Immaculata La Salle – Two-year captain. Two-time All-Dade County. Played club for Toros FC and Strikers FC.
James Ford – Goalkeeper – Summit, New Jersey – Summit High School – All-County and All-Mountain Division selection. Played for Players Development Academy of the ECNL.
Jacob Framson – Defender – Winter Springs, Florida – Oviedo High School – Team captain. All-Conference. Played for Orlando City Academy. Region III ODP team from 2014 through 2017.
Jason Gomes – Defender – Elizabeth, New Jersey – Seton Hall Prep – Second-Team All-State selection. First Team SEC American Division. First Team All-Essex County. Played for the Ironbound Strikers.
Nathan Heintz – Goalkeeper – Irvine, California – Northwood High School – Played club for Strikers FC.
Sindri Ingimarsson – Defender – Kopavogur, Iceland – Commercial College of Iceland – Played for Breidablik of the Icelandic Soccer League.
Dominic Lambo – Midfielder – Cedarburg, Wisconsin – Marquette University High School – Greater Metro Conference Player of the Year. First Team All-State. First-Team All-Area. All-Great Lakes Region selection. Played club soccer for FC Wisconsin.
Paul Makaj – Midfielder – Lagrangeville, New York – Arlington High School – All-League and All-Section selection.
Jack Murphy – Midfielder – San Jose, California – Archbishop Mitty High School – Played for Santa Clara Sporting of the USSDA. Played for CAL North ODP. Rgion IV ODP team. Played for DeAnza Force Academy.
Ivan Ruiz – Midfielder – Basking Ridge, New Jersey – Delbaron High School – Played club for PDA Academy.
Jack Sluys – Defender – Gig Harbor, Washington – Gig Harbor High School – Two-year captain. All-League First Team selection. First Team All-Area. First Team All-State. Played for Washington Premier FC B98.
Outlook for 2018 Season:
A look at Fordham's 2018 roster reveals a lot of returning talent. Because a solid necleus returns, it would be unwise to look at the key contributors from the 2017 team who are no longer on campus and assume a huge drop-off will occur in 2018.
However, the departure of a very productive senior class that included experienced and talented players like midfielder Jannik Loebe (9g, 4a) on the offensive side of the ball and back Matthew Lewis on the defensive side does create voids that have the potential to lower the ceiling of the 2018 team a bit. As a result, a repeat of the historic 2017 season that featured a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament may be a long shot, but another successful double-digit win season is not.
Team chemistry was a big plus for Fordham last year. It likely will be again in 2018 but chemistry is always a potential concern when you must replace six senior starters and when you bring on board a large recruiting class. The toughness that Fordham displayed last year required as well as reflected a total team effort.
To say that Jannik and Janos Loebe have been difference makers for the Rams is an understatement. The Loebe brothers combined to score sixteen of Fordham's thirty-five goals last year. The graduation of Jannik, who scored twenty-five goals during a brilliant four-year tenture for the Ram's during which he often came up with key goals, creates some very big shoes to fill. As a result, a greater share of the load on the offensive side of the ball as well as the focus of opposing defenders will shift to Janos (7g, 9a) in 2018.
It also means that another playmaker or two will need to emerge to add balance to the attack. Junior transfer forward Johannes Pieles from Syracuse is a nice addition and proven goal scorer who could prove to be just what the doctor ordered. Pieles has the potential to be among the top impact transfers in the country if he is able to effectively merge his talents into the Fordham offense and add an additional dimension to the attack.
McElderry had the luxary of being able to utilize several differnet lineups last year. He will again have a variety of options in that regard in 2018 but in order for the Rams to gel as a team the need for consistency and chemistry may limit that somewhat.
Fordham opens the 2018 season with six consecutive contests on the road including early season games with Wisconsin and Northwestern out of the Big Ten. Those contests should give McElderry an early indication of just how competitive Fordham will be in 2018 and help prepare the team for Atlantic 10 play which begins on September 29. However, wins in non-conference contests are also important in order for a team in the Atlantic 10 to secure an RPI that will give them a shot at an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Returning midfielders who look to be in the mix in 2018 include senior Matt Miller (0g, 1a) who started sixteen contests last year, sophomores Andron Kagramanyan (0g, 1a) who started twenty-two contests last year and Ross Wilcox (0g, 2a) who started fourteen, and juniors Bart Dziedzic (3g, 1a) who appeared in eighteen games in 2017 with six starts and Nicholas Meyer who saw action in two matches.
Senior Rashid Nuhu who has been the starter in goal for the past three seasons returns to anchor the defense. Last year Nuhu posted eleven shutouts and recored a 0.84 goals-against average. His clutch play in goal played a key role in the success that the Rams enjoyed throughout the season.
Ruhu is the real deal and will once again be a key factor on the defensive side of the ball for Fordham but he will have to do it in 2018 with a less experienced backline in front of him due to the graduation of defenders Matthew Lewis (2g, 4a), Chris Bazzini (3g, 1a), and Vincenzo Zuccala (0g, 2a). Lewis, the 2017 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year, and Bazzini were both four-year starters.
Junior back Joergen Oland (5g, 0a) who has been a starter and impact player for the past two-seasons gives Fordham an athletic and experienced defender to build around. Sophomore Jacob Bohm (3g, 1a) who started fourteen contests last year, senior Owen Lawrence (0g, 2a) who appeared in eighteen contests with ten starts, and sophomore Brandon Golden who appeared in eight games in 2017 are among others who look to be in the mix in the back or elsewhere. Several of the newcomers should also push for minutes in the back from the get-go.
Fordham will likely count on the sophomores who gained experience last year to play a more critical role in 2018. The Rams will also look to several of the newcomers to help add additional punch to the attack and to fill the gaps that exist in the back.
But the fate of the Rams will ultimately rest heavily on Janos Loebe's productivity and playmaking skills up-top and on the ability of Joergen Oland and Rashid Nuhu to add stability and consistency on the defensive side of the ball. They can't do it alone, but they can provide a solid foundation and set the pace for another successful season.