Men's Soccer Opens Season Play on the Road

by Michelle Kokot
August 24, 2012
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span>NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. &ndash; The Niagara men&rsquo;s soccer team begins its 2012 regular season with a two-game weekend against non-conference foes the Pittsburgh Panthers on Friday, Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m. and the Duquesne Dukes on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in the Duquesne Invitational. &nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span>Second-year head coach&nbsp;</span><strong>Chase Brooks</strong><span>&nbsp;is looking to build on the 9-4-5 (4-2-3 MAAC) finish to the 2011 season.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Follow the Purple Eagles</strong><br /><span>Live Stats for Friday&rsquo;s evening game against Pittsburgh and Sunday&rsquo;s afternoon game against Duquesne will be available.&nbsp; To access the live stats, please click on the appropriate link above.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Before Kickoff&nbsp;</strong><br /><span>Along with nine fresh faces wearing the Purple and White this season, the team welcomes back 17 returning players, including sophomore forward&nbsp;</span><dfn><a href="" rev="3785">Callum Willmott</a>&nbsp;</dfn><span>who scored five goals, including three game-winners, and adding two assists for 12 points in 2011.&nbsp; Also returning to the mix is senior forward&nbsp;</span><dfn><a href="" rev="3772">Bryan Da Cruz</a></dfn><span>, who finished third on the team with eight points (two goals, four assists).&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span>The Purple Eagles are strong in goal, as senior goalkeeper&nbsp;</span><dfn><a href="" rev="3781">Brett Petricek</a></dfn><span>&nbsp;will provide support in the back.&nbsp; The 6-foot-1 goalkeeper was ranked 11</span><sup>th</sup><span>&nbsp;in the NCAA for his save percentage (.848) and 23</span><sup>rd</sup><span>&nbsp;in the NCAA for goals-against average (0.77).&nbsp; He led the MAAC in both categories.&nbsp; Petricek accumulated 78 saves for the season and posted eight shutouts in 17 games.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Scouting Pittsburgh&nbsp;</strong><br /><span>Pittsburgh is coming off a season in which it went 4-13-1 and posted 2-7 Big East record.&nbsp; The team returns five starters and 16 letterwinners from a season ago, including junior Nico Wrobel who led the team with five goals and 11 points and sophomore Manny Morgado (2-1-5).&nbsp; The Panthers also welcome eight newcomers to the squad.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>All-Time Against the Panthers</strong><br /><span>The Purple Eagles enter Friday&rsquo;s game against Pitt trailing the series by a 1-4-0 record.&nbsp; All five games played between Pitt and Niagara have been shutouts for the victorious side, including their last meeting in 2003 which ended in a 1-0 Panthers win.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Scouting Duquesne</strong><br /><span>The Dukes are coming off a 7-9-2 season where they earned a 4-4-1 Atlantic-10 record that had them finish seventh in the conference.&nbsp; Duquesne welcomes back its top two scores in junior Simon Gomez (9-8-26) and senior Joshua Patterson (9-3-21).&nbsp; Also returning to the mix is senior defender Adam Clement who was third on the team in goals (3) and tied for the lead with four assists and two game-winning goals.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>&ldquo;Duking&rdquo; it Out&nbsp;</strong><br /><span>Duquesne leads the all-time series that began in 1994 with a 5-1-1 record.&nbsp; Six of the seven games played between the two teams have been tightly contested, with two battles decided in overtime.&nbsp; The last time Niagara and Duquesne met was in 2011, which ended in a 2-0 defeat for the Purple Eagles.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>2012 MAAC Preseason Poll</strong><br /><span>The Niagara men&rsquo;s soccer team was tabbed to finish seventh in the 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches&rsquo; Poll.&nbsp; The Purple Eagles finished last season 4-2-3 in the MAAC, clinching the fourth seed in the 2011 MAAC Tournament and losing a heartbreaker in the quarterfinal to Marist in penalty kicks after 110 minutes of scoreless action.</span><br /><br /><strong>National Play</strong><br /><span>Sophomore midfielder&nbsp;</span><dfn><a href="" rev="3780">Micah Paulino</a></dfn><span>&nbsp;took the field with Guam&rsquo;s national soccer team this summer, playing against the Azkals, Philippines&rsquo; national soccer team in an exhibition match in Bacolod City,&nbsp;Philippines.&nbsp; The game ended in a 3-0 Azkals victory.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span>Paulino has played for the Guam Football Federation National Team since 2005 where he captained the U-19 Soccer Team and participated in tournaments throughout Asia.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Brotherly Love&nbsp;</strong><br /><dfn><a href="" rev="3789">Darren Cooper</a></dfn><span>&nbsp;is the newest member of the Cooper family to join the Purple Eagles.&nbsp; His brother&nbsp;</span><dfn><a href="" rev="3769">Ken Cooper</a></dfn><span>&nbsp;is a junior midfielder on the team.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Welcome Home</strong><br /><span>Niagara alum and former men&rsquo;s soccer athlete,&nbsp;</span><strong>Liam Gilbert</strong><span>&nbsp;returns to Monteagle Ridge as the assistant coach for the 2012 season.&nbsp; The Southampton, England native returns after being a dominate force for Niagara in the midfield from 2010-11.&nbsp; He saw action in 34 games during his two-year stint, netting nine goals and adding 10 assists in two seasons.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Former Panther on the Sideline</strong><br /><strong>Eric Barnes</strong><span>&nbsp;joins the Niagara coaching staff after serving as the men&rsquo;s soccer assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh since 2009.&nbsp; While obtaining his Juris Doctorate from Pitt, Barnes played two seasons with the Panthers where he registered six wins with two shutouts in 21 games.&nbsp; He recorded 88 saves and finished his two-year career with a 1.42 goals-against average.</span><br /><br /><strong>Looking Ahead in September</strong><br /><span>The Purple Eagles play six games in September, with their home opener against Wisconsin-Green Bay on Sept. 2 as one of only two on their home turf.&nbsp; The Purple Eagles then venture on the road for their next three games, starting with the Smith Barney Classic in Burlington, Vt. where Niagara will battle New Hampshire on Friday, Sept. 7 and Vermont on Sunday, Sept. 9.&nbsp; The following weekend the Purple Eagles continue road play in Dayton, Ohio where they play Wright State (Sept. 14), before returning home on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. against St. Francis.&nbsp; Niagara wraps up the month with an afternoon game against St. Bonaventure on Sunday, Sept. 9.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Conference Play</strong><br /><span>Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play begins on Niagara Field Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in a matchup against the Loyola Greyhounds.&nbsp; The Purple Eagles then host Rider on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m.&nbsp;</span></p>
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