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Monmouth University 2015 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – Monmouth University 
Conference – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Coach – Robert McCourt (12th Season) 
Background – The Hawks have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in five of the last nine seasons including the 2014 season in which they were 11-4-6 overall with a 4-1-5 mark in conference play and won the MAAC tournament. Robert McCourt has been the head coach at Monmouth since the 2004 season. After playing for many years in the Northeast Conference the Hawks joined the MAAC in 2013. During McCourt's eleven year tenure to date as the Monmouth head coach the Hawks have won eight regular season conference titles and five conference tournament titles. Back Mike Jeffery was named the 2014 MAAC Defensive Player of the Year.  Jeffrey and forward Dom Sarle were All-MAAC First Tean selections. Backs Emmanuel Senyah Agyemang and Derek Luke, forward Dave Nigro and goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky were 2014 All-MAAC Second Team selections. 
Offense – The graduation of forward Dom Sarle (6g, 5a) who was the Hawks leading goal scorer last year and Bryant Avalos (3g, 4a) who missed a portion of the 2014 season due to injury creates a void that must be filled on the offensive side of the ball. Establishing a consistent scoring threat up-top is essential in 2015 for Monmouth. From there, the rest of the attack should fall into place. Junior Dave Nigro (5g, 3a) looks to be the most likely candidate to fill that role up top along with senior Jelani Williams (2g, 0a) who is currently rehabbing a broken leg sustained in the semifinals of the 2014 MAAC Tournament. Highly regarded freshman forward Jalil Blalock is among the newcomers who could immediately add additional punch to the Monmouth attack. The midfield looks to be a team strength heading into the 2015 season. Senior John Egan (1g, 2a) returns to lead the way in the center of the park. Junior Miguel Alves (1g, 3a) returns at the left midfield spot along with senior Dan Pizzimenti who can be utilized as a right midfielder or right back back. Junior Brandon McCarthy (3g, 1da) and sophomore Andrew Gee (2g, 1a) who had a very productive freshman season will also play key roles in the midfield.  Junior Colin Stripling who started and played every minute as a freshman but missed a large portion of the 2014 season due to injury returns to add yet another dimension to the midfield in 2015. Look for Stripling and Egan to set the pace for the team.      
Defense – When a backline that allowed a total of only eleven goals last year losses players that were multi-year starters the caliber of center backs Matt Jeffery who was the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year and Emmanuel Senyah Agyemang due to graduation and no significant drop-off is expected it speaks volumes about the sustainability of the program. Senior outside backs and captains Derek Luke and David Acuna Camacho return as the dominant pieces in the Monmouth backline in 2015. Both are tenacious defenders with the ability to push forward to add additional firepower to the attack. Sophomore Spencer Moeller who is a transfer from Memphis and junior Kegan Ellis who is a member of the U-20 Trinidad and Tobago National Team should slot in nicely at center back. Freshman defender Zach Pereira is among the members of the recruiting class who could challenge for a starting job right away. Junior Eric Klenofsky who has been a starter for the past two seasons returns in goal to anchor what should be another very solid Monmouth defense.  Klenofsky recorded twelve shutouts last year and led the nation in goals against average in both 2013 (0.22) and 2014 (0.48).

Newcomers – Three and a Half Star Recruiting Class  

Daniel Aversano – Midfielder – Allendale, New Jersey – Northern HIghlands Regional High School – 2014 NSCAA High School All-American, First Team All-State, played club for TSF Academy.

Jalil Blalock – Forward – Elizabeth, New Jersey – Elizabeth High School – Played club for PDA, 2014 Academy Showcase All-Star Team. NPL Champions Cup Best XI.  Ranked by CSN as the number 105 player in the class of 2015. 

Chase Covello – Midfielder – Spring Lake, New Jersey – The Peddie School – Played club for Match Fit Academy FC, Star Ledger 1st Team All-Prep and All-County. 

Daniel Figarella – Defender – Wappingers Falls, New York – John Jay High School – First Team All-Metro Area. Dutchess County All-Star. Played for Everton FC Westchester Development Academy.

Spencer Moeller – Defender – Bradenton, Florida – IMG Academy – Transfer from Memphis where he started sixteen games as a freshman.

Zach Pereira – Defender – Rahway, New Jersey – St. Benedict's Preparatory High School – Played club with Match Fit Academy. Started every game for St. Benedict's Prep at Center Back.  

Anderson Asiedu – Midfielder – Dormaa Ahenkro, Ghana – St. Benedict's Prep – Played in USSF Development Academy. Ranked by CSN as the number 39 recruit in the class of 2015. 

Jassiem Wahtuse – Forward – Scotch Plains, New Jersey – Scotch Plains Fanwood High School – All-State selection. Played for USSF Development Academy.  

Prognosis for 2015 – The Hawks were hampered last year due to injuries that impacted their productivity on the offensive side of the ball at times during the season and likely required that they focus more on the defensive side of the ball than they have at times in the past. If they can avoid injuries in 2015 it is highly likely that they will up their big play ability on the offensive side of the ball and their win total. Monmouth will miss the services of forward Dom Sarle, outside midfielder Bryant Avalos and backs Matt Jeffrey and Emmanuel Agyemang but a solid core including eight starters return supplemented by a recruiting class that may include additional players that have not yet been announced that should help on both sides of the ball. Dave Nigro and a healthy Jelani Williams will provide offensive punch up top. The midfield supplemented by the return of a healthy Colin Stripling looks to be talented and deep. The backline should be very solid once again depending upon the ability of transfer Spencer Moeller and Kegan Ellis who missed the 2014 season or perhaps one of the newcomers to plug the gap that exists due to the graduation of Jeffrey and Agyemang. Eric Klenofsky gives the Hawks a solid and now very experienced presence in goal. Defense has been Monmouth's stong suit the past two seasons. In 2014 they allowed a total of only eleven goals including only two in regular season conference play and in 2013 they allowed a total of only sixteen goals including only three in regular season conference play. With McCourt's teams, the value is often more than the sum of the individual parts, and there is no reason to believe this will not also be the case in 2015. Monmouth will clearly be in the hunt for the MAAC race and if the freshmen emerge and adjust quickly, if injuries are not an issue, and if the returning players play to their potential, this is a team that could also be a factor on the national scene as the Hawks have been at times in the past.     


Posted in 2015 Team Reviews

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