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
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
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
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.