After narrowly missing the East Coast Conference playoffs in their draw against New York Institute of Technology last season, the Queens College men’s soccer team hopes to achieve more this season.
They are determined to reach the playoffs this season with as much work coming on and off the field.
Head coach Carl Christian stated he, along with assistant coach Chris Bonawandt, has been preparing for this season with more vigor than last season. He believes the team can attack more despite losing forward Danny Stoker — who had 11 goals and four assists last season — and defensive leader Grant Edick. However, while he notes the team is stronger within attack, there is worry regarding the defense now that Stoker and Edick are no longer on the team.
“Danny was a great team player and slotted into a couple of different roles for us, but we were certainly not a one man team and can certainly generate offense from a number of different areas. His loss, along with Grant Edick, on the defensive side of the ball, has been a bigger concern to be honest,” Christian said.
Co-captains, seniors, Peter Touros and defender Metri Abdul Karim are both returning from being injured last season. According to Christian, their return was as if “two new players” were added to the team. Moreover, the addition of new players has impressed Christian and reassured him of the team’s chances of winning the playoffs.
“If we take care of business earlier in the season and have success against our ECC opponents…our job might already be done in terms of securing a playoff spot, so these games [the last three games of the season] will be more a case of playing for position,” Christian said.
Christian did note that the ECC does not guarantee automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Championships if the team wins the playoffs. Therefore, he emphasized that the season would focus on their “overall record” and “strength of schedule,” as every game is important in his eyes, for the regional rankings.
However, he did mention that rivalries with other schools, such as last year’s playoff winner Long Island University Post, added more of an incentive in their upcoming season.
“There are always those local rivalries [LIU Post, NYIT] that have that little bit of added spice, and bragging rights, with many of our players knowing players on those teams,” Christian said.
The team has a tough road ahead of them as a recent ECC men’s soccer preseason poll, where head coaches in the conference rank teams most favorable to win the playoffs, showed the team was ranked seventh out of 11 teams. Christian felt other teams were underestimating them.
“Preseason polls have us ranked at seventh in the conference — despite a fourth and fifth place finish in past two years — so, we certainly see this as bulletin board material and just gives us added incentive to prove them wrong and earn a bit more respect for our program in doing so. Let them underestimate us at their own risk,” Christian said.
On Sept. 5 the Knights lost their first game of the season against Bentley, 2-1, with their lone goal scored by Touros with an assist by Glen Reid. Their next home game is on Sept.10 against New Haven.