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JJ Bostic congratulates Stevie Saballos during a 2011 match.
by: Jim Hogue Photos
Men's Soccer to Use Experience and Skill in 2012
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  08/21/2012
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With a wealth of decorated veterans returning from last season's 10-5-4 squad, the Stetson men's soccer team is poised for another stellar campaign in 2012.  This season's version of the Hatters is still untested and unproven as a unit, but with Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year and NSCAA Third Team All-America Jonathan Mendoza as well as A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Luis Ocejo back in the fold, Stetson seems poised to make another deep run in the conference tournament and vie for its second berth into the NCAA Championships in just four years.

Mendoza will lead a myriad of returning midfielders for the Hatters in 2012.  The reigning Player of the Year and All-American was an offensive dynamo for Stetson last season.  Totaling 11 goals and five assists for a team-best 27 points, Mendoza was called "an MLS-level talent" by Top Drawer Soccer.  The publication went on to say that the midfielder "is one of those hidden gems of college soccer and worth all of the preseason hype."

Junior Steven Saballos will add a lot of experience in the center of the Hatters' midfield, having started 18 games and totaling one goal and five assists a year ago. Senior Caleb Matthews, who tallied one score in 13 games as a sophomore in 2010, sophomore Elias Beates, with his two goals in 19 matches from a season ago, and sophomore Dwight Lodge will add plenty of experience at the position.

Junior AJ Cardounel and redshirt freshman Juan Polanco didn't see action last season, but will provide depth to the Stetson midfield in 2012.  A pair of newcomers will also help fill out the Hatters' bevy of midfielders this fall.  Travis Workman is a junior from DeLand, while Quinn Ebright hails from Tampa.

Last year's squad outscored its opponents 38-30, and that differential was due in part to Ocejo anchoring the defense.  The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year in the A-Sun added two goals and three assists to his stingy defending last season.  Ocejo was also named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the league earlier this month.

He will be joined by a trio of experienced backs in juniors Raffaele Centofanti and JJ Bostic, as well as sophomore JJ Lofthouse-Smith.  Centofanti and Bostic added two goals out of the back in 2011, while Lofthouse-Smith was third on the team in minutes last season.  Junior Chris Aguirre, redshirt freshman Gabriele Vittori, and freshman Doug Szoka from DeLand will add depth to the Stetson defense in 2012.

Senior Kai Eckenrode is an experienced attacking player who was recently named to the A-Sun's Preseason All-Conference Team.  He scored four goals and added six assists as a junior in 2011.  Senior Joakim Helland and junior Evan Jimmo have each shown the ability to help the Hatter offense in the past.  Helland was second on the team with five goals last year, while Jimmo scored a goal in 17 appearances last season.  Freshman Fabrizio Chiari of Caracas, Venezuela will add depth to the Stetson attack this fall.

Entering his junior season with a career 0.82 goals-against average, Andreas Schnabl has proven to be one of the top goalkeepers in the conference.  Recording five shutouts in each of his first two seasons, Schnabl will look to lead the Hatters from the very back once again in 2012.  Stetson also brought in freshman goalkeeper Luis Arrazola, who will provide the Hatters with depth and flexibility at the position.

Stetson's schedule for the 2012 campaign includes three NCAA Tournament participants from a year ago in West Virginia, UCF and A-Sun foe FGCU.  The slate begins with a trip to Penn State on August 25.  The Hatters will take on last season's Big 10 runner-up for the second year in a row, after defeating the Nittany Lions by a score of 3-2 early in the 2011 season.

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