|School – Villanova
|Conference – Big East
|Coach – Tom Carlin (9th Season) –
Background – Villanova was 9-8-0 overall with a 4-5-0 mark in conference play in 2015. The Wildcats were hampered by a series of injuries last year that necessitated numerous lineup changes throughout the season.
Tom Carlin became the Villanoa head coach in 2008 after serving as an assistant coach for the Wildcats in 2007. Villanova had seven wins in 2008, nine wins in 2009, eight wins in 2010, eight wins in 2011, twelve wins in 2012, eight wins in 2013, and eight wins in 2014.
Midfielder Sean Sheridan was named to the 2015 All-Big East First Team and midfielder Zack Zandi was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team. Sheridan was also a 2015 All-Great Lakes Region 2015 Second Team selection and was named the Philadelphia Soccer 6 Player of the Year.
Offense – Villanova has some big shoes to fill due to the graduation of midfielder Sean Sheridan (8g, 3a) who was the Wildcats top goal scorer last year and a four year starter.
However a solid core of capable finishers are slated to return led by senior forwards Padraic McCullaugh (5g, 5a) and Max Kroschwitz (4g, 4a). Both are experienced and battle tested starters who will likely be counted upon to power the attack.
A solid necleus of playmakers with good touch on the ball return in the midfield. Sophomore Zach Zandi (1g, 2a), redshirt junior Miguel Polley (0g, 6a), senior Andreas Bartoskinski (3g, 3a) and junior Lucas Hodges (3g, 0a) who were starters last year should contribute to the attack in 2016. Seniors John Jlopleh (3g, 0a) and Eric McKenna are among other returning midfielders who figure to be in the mix in 2016.
Sean Teixiera who honed his skills with the New York Red Bulls Academy is among the newcomers with the potential to immediately add an additional dimension to the attack.
Defense – There are a lot of unanswered quetions on the defensive side of the ball heading into the 2016 season. Rebuilding will be required. The Wildcats lose the services of backs Chris Hill, and Colton Bryant who were three year starters as well as Michael Manta due to graduation.
Junior outside back Chris Bared is among returning players who should be a mainstay on the defensive side of the ball in 2016. Senior defensive midfielder Eric McKenna may also be utilized in the back.
Nikkye DePoint and Shane Bradley are among the members of the recruiting class who should have the opportunity to compete for minutes in the back.
Redshirt junior Will Steiner, the starter in goal for the past two seasons, returns to anchor the defense. Steiner gives Villanoa an experienced and composed presence between the pipes which is always a plus.
Newcomers – Three and a Half Star Recruiting Class
Coach Carlin stated, "Our staff is extremely excited about the diverse skill set this class brings to Villanova Soccer. We expect that this group of players will have an extremely positive impact on our program in all facets."
Sean Teixiera – Midfielder – Played with New York Red Bulls Academy. Ranked by CSN as the number 140 player in the class of 2016. Member of U.S. National Team Pool from U-14 through U-17.
Carson Hunt – Goalkeeper – Loyola (Md.) Blakefield High School – All-State selection. Played for the Baltimore Celtic.
David Bettenhausen – Midfielder – Malvern Prepatory School – Played for Continental FC Premier and Lower Merion Magic. Led Continental FC in goals and assists.
Jack Gilliam – Midfielder – Naples, Florida – Naples High School – Played for the Florida Fire Juniors.
Jacob Anderson – Midfielder – Altadena, California – Played for FC Golden State Academy.
Nikkye DePoint – Defender – Rochester, New York – Member of the U.S. U-15-U-17 National Team Pool. Ranked by CSN as the number forty-three player in the class of 2016.
Frank Cotroneo – Defender – Grand Island, New York – Played for the Empire Revolution Academy.
Conor Bradley – Midfielder – Havertown, Pennsylvania – The Haverford School – Played for the U-16 and U-18 Philadelphia Union. Mainline First Team selection. Delaware County First Team selection.
Shane Bradley – Defender – Haverton, Pennsylvania – The Haverford School – Played for the U-16 and U-18 Philadelphia Union. Named Delaware County Player of the Year in 2014. First Team Southeastern. All Main Line.
Prognosis for 2016 – Last year the Wildcats began the season with three straight wins and looked to have momemtum. However a slew of injuries that resulted in numerous makeshift lineups contributed to a lack of consistency throughout the remainder of the season.
Villanova was in the middle of the pack in the Big East Conference in 2015 in terms of offensive productivity but at or near the bottom in all measures of performance on the defensive side of the ball. Injuries that resulted is a revolving door of starters in the back likely contributed to the defensive woes.
Moving upward in the hypercompetitive Big East Conference is a tall task. Ditto that for Villanova's chances of earning a berth in the NCAA Touranament in 2016. The Wildcats came close to an at-large berth back in 2012 when they had a twelve win season but they remain a program seeking to earn their first NCAA Tournament invite.
A return to the six team Big East Conference Tournament appears attainable in 2016. A huge jump is unlikely, but the opportunity for improvement exists. Villanova looks to be a much deeper and more consistent team in 2016. Playing through the adverstiy that the Wildcats faced last year sometimes creates focus and momentum the following season. Villanova had a productive spring season which is a potential indicator of positive progress. As a result there is reason for cautious optimism heading into the 2016 campaign.
A shot at a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2016 will require a total team effort. Critical success factors include a substantive improvement on the defensive side of the ball, offensive productivity from the likes of veteran senior forwards Padraic McCullaugh and Max Kroschwitz, the avoidance of key injuries, and an immediate boost from a few of the newcomers.