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Monmouth University 2016 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – Monmouth
Conference – MAAC
Coach – Robert McCourt (13th Season)

Background – Monmouth was 13-4-4 overall in 2015 with a 7-0-3 mark in conference play. The Hawks won the 2015 MAAC regular season title and defeated Manhattan and Iona in the conference tournament to advance to the championship match where they were topped 3-2 by a Rider University team that they tied 1-1 when the two teams faced each other during regular season play.

Monmouth began playing in the MAAC in 2013 after playing in the Northeast Conference for many years. They were 8-6-6 overall in 2013 and won the regular season MAAC title with a 7-1-2 mark in conference play. In 2014 they were 11-4-6 overall and won the MAAC Tournament title.

Under McCourt's direction, Monmouth has secured nine conference regular season titles, five tournament titles, and made five appearances in the NCAA Tournament.   

David Acuna Camacho was named the 2015 MAAC Defensive Player of the Year. Eric Klenofsky was named the 2015 Goalkeeper of the Year. McCourt was named the 2015 MAAC Coach of the Year.

Camacho, Klenofsky, defender Derek Luke, forward Dave Nigro, and midfielders Colin Stripling and Anderson Asiedu were named to the All-MAAC First Team. Midfielder John Egan was named to the 2015 All-MAAC Second Team. Defenders Zachary Pereira and Asiedu were named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team.

Asiedu and Klenofsky were named to the 2015 NSCAA All-Northeast Region First Team. Camacho was named to the NSCAA All-Northeast Region Second Team.  

Offense – Monmouth had a very balanced attack in 2015 that featured goals from twelve different players and produced a total of forty-one goals in 2015, the fifth-most in program history and the most since the 1993 season.

The graduation of midfielder John Eagan (5g, 5a), a three-year starter for the Blue and White, creates the biggest void that must be filled from the standpoint of goals scored. Senior Dave Nigro (5g, 3a) a three-year starter and sophomore Dan Figarella (3g, 1a) who has the benefit of having appearing in twenty-one contests last year return up-top to provide scoring punch in 2016.

The midfield looks to be very productive and deep led by seniors Colin Stripling (6g, 5a) and Miguel Alves (5g, 1a) who provide another potent scoring option. Both are seasoned and soccer savvy veterans.

Sophomores Anderson Asiedu (2g, 4a) who had an outstanding freshman season, Jalil Blalock (0g, 1a), and Chase Covello, junior Andrew Gee (3g, 1a) and senior Brandon McCarthy all return to round out what should be a very competitive midfield.

Defense – Some rebuilding will be required due to the graduation of 2015 All-MAAC First Team defenders David Acuna Camacho and Derek Luke. Both were mainstays in the Monmouth defense during their four years on campus and will be missed.

The Hawks will enter the 2016 season with plenty of talent in the back, but relatively little experience. Junior defenders Joey Gudzak (0g, 1a) and sophomore Zach Pereira (4g, 2a) who were starters last year provide a solid foundation upon which to rebuild the backline. Several of the newcomers should compete for minutes in the back from the get-go.   

Senior Eric Klenofsky, who is among the top netminders in the country heading into the 2016 campaign, gives Monmouth a talented, experienced, and composed presence in goal. Klenofsky is a three-time All-MAAC selection whose resume includes having been the NCAA Division I leader in goals-against- average twice during his three year tenure to date. He will enter the 2016 campaign with an impressive cumulative 0.62 gaa and a .843 save percentage.  

Newcomers – Three and a Half Star Recruiting Class 

John Antunes – Midfielder – Fairfield, New Jersey – St. Benedict's Prep High School – Ranked by College Soccer News as the number sixty-nine ranked player in the class of 2016. New Jersey Gatorade State Player of the Year. High School All-American selection. New Jersey State Prep Player of the Year. 

Jake Areman – Midfielder – Freehold, New Jersey – Colts Neck High School – Junior transfer from the University of Maryland where he netted a goal and two assists during two seasons. Played for PDA.

Jacob Curtis – Defender – Little Silver, Maryland – Red Bank Regional High School – All-State Honorable Menion. Played for the Ocean Soccer Club and the Wall Red Devils. Team Captain. 

Mike Luke – Defender – Martinsville, New Jersey – Bridgewater-Raritan High School – Played for PDA U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Team Captain. Soccer savvy left-sided defender. Brother of former Monmouth back Derek Luke.

Andy Martinez – Defender – Paterson, New Jersey – St. Benedict's Prep High School – Plays for Cedar Stars Soccer Club. Tenacious ball winner.

Cristian Martinez – Defender – Mine Hill, New Jersey – Dover High School – U.S. U-17 U.S. Men's National Residency Program. Played for U-18 New York Red Bulls Academy. Strong defender.   

Colin Muller – Defender – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – Liberty High School – First Team All-State. NSCAA All-Region selection. Played for Lehigh Valley United. Member Region I ODP team. 

Geoff Schaefer – Midfielder – Bridgeton, New Jersey – Woodstown High School – Second Team All-State. First Team All-South. Played for South Jersey Elite Barons. 

Ryan Wells – Defender – Ocean, New Jersey – Ocean High School – First Team All-Group III. First Team All-Shore Conference. Played for Wall Red Devils. Solid work-ethic and ball winner. 

Prognosis for 2016 – Eight players who found the back of the net for Monmouth at least once in 2015 are slated to return in 2016.

The Hawks lost some of their playmakers from last year due to the graduation of midfielder John Eagan (5g, 5a) and backs David Acuna Camacho (3g, 6a) and Derek Luke (1g, 7a) but chances are pretty good that they will again have a multi-dimensional and balanced attack in 2016. The senior trio of midfielders Colin Stripling and Miguel Alves and forward Dave Nigro, who combined to account for a total of fifteen goals last year,  are all very capable finishers who return to spearhead the attack in 2016.

The midfield looks to be experienced and deep with a solid core of returning players supplemented by several highly regarded newcomers like John Antunes, the New Jersey Prep Player of the Year,  who should compete for playing time immediately in the midfield or as an outside back.

The necleus exists upon which to rebuild the backline but youth and inexperience could be somewhat problematic in the early going. Senior goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky is very talented and experienced which should facilitate organization in the back and make the learning curve on the defensive side of the ball much easier.

McCourt will again welcome a very promising recruiting class which includes several players with the potential to emerge and contribute immediately.  

The bottom line is that Monmouth will enter the 2016 campaign with as much if not more talent than anyone in the MAAC. They also have the potential to again make some noise on the national scene.

The Hawks got off to a poor start last year lossing their first three contests to UMass Lowell, Providence and Hartford. They subsequently were undefeated in their next seventeen contests before being edged by Rider University in the MAAC Tournament Final.  

The memory of the slow start in non-conference play and perhaps even more so the loss in the tournament final last year should cause the Hawks to enter the 2016 season focused and ready to play.

The margin of error for any team in a mid-major conference is small in terms of national standing so the Blue and White must prevail in their non-conference contests to secure a national ranking.  

Monmouth will have the chance to make a statement right out of the gate when they open the season at home against against a very highly regarded Denver University team that will no doubt enter the season with a national ranking. The Hawks then host UMass Lowell and travel to tangle with Hartford followed by a contest at home against Colgate out of the Patriot League. They then travel to face UMBC out of the America East. Those non-conference contests will be good early seasons tests for the Hawks and provide a good indicator of how competitive the 2016 team will be.   

If the offensive continues to click in 2016 and the Hawks are able to fill the void on the defensive side of the ball then another regular season and tournament title and berth in the NCAA Tourney are within reach.  

Posted in 2016 Team Reviews

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