Revamped Molloy eager for fresh start

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An influx of talented and experienced transfers will look to help Molloy’s men’s soccer program get back on a successful path following a rough 2018 that produced just two wins in 17 games.

“Everything just snowballed out of control and we were unable to dig ourselves out of a hole,” coach Danny Longo said. “We’ve added some big pieces in key areas and we’re looking for a quick turnaround. We just have to stay healthy and get everyone on the same page and jelling.”

The Lions enter the new season on an 11-game slide, including nine straight defeats against East Coast Conference rivals. The return to health of standout senior midfielder Carlos Bonilla, and proven newcomers in the midfield and defensive zone, has Longo feeling optimistic.

“I’ve never coached as dominant a center-midfielder like Carlos,” Longo said of Bonilla, who suffered a broken wrist four games into last season and never returned. “He’s the best player in the region in my opinion,” he added. “He dictates everything we do in transition.”

Midfielder Oscan Magnusson, a junior, stepped up as Molloy’s most consistent performer in 2018, Longo said. “He plays with a lot of finesse and can be elusive,” Longo said.

A year after being held to 17 goals, the Lions are counting on newcomer Kenny Garcia to take the offense to another level. An attacking middie, he scored 16 goals for St. Joseph’s last season. “We recruited him to score goals,” said Longo, who also brought in Eli Whyte to bolster the position. Angelo Bordenca is a four-year member of the club with 27 starts under his belt.

Senior wings Paul Morales and Anthony Cestaro scored four and three goals, respectively, to lead the Lions in scoring and Longo is hoping for more production with them seeing fewer double-teams with the added firepower around them.

Defensively, Longo is pumped about the additions of grad student Nick Bigilin, who had D-1 stints at Kentucky and Hofstra, sophomore Orlando Zambrano, and freshman Danny Muir. Senior Matt Miller moved from the midfield to central defender prior to last season, while sophomore Bryan Argueta aims to rebound from an injury plagued debut campaign.

Redshirt freshman Dennis Mejia tops the depth chart at goalkeeper. He’s joined by true freshmen Sergio Peralta and Silvestre Macias.

The Lions play their first five on the road before hosting New York Tech in the ECC opener Sept. 28.

Lady Lions bring high expectations

Molloy women’s soccer head coach Steve Price returns the majority of last year’s roster, including the top four goal scorers and arguably the No. 1 goalkeeper in the ECC.

The Lady Lions, who finished 6-9-2 overall (3-5-1 ECC) in 2018, face a “very difficult schedule,” Price noted, but have their sights set on a top four conference finish and tournament berth. “We’re getting a lot more athletic all over the field,” he said.

Junior striker Dana Poetzsch, who has 23 goals in two seasons, has been flying in practice, Price said, and enters the new campaign with a better understanding of how opponents will plan to defend her. Newcomers Kelsie Moinzadeh and Brenna Glover are expected to bolster an offense that also returns senior Amy D’Eloia and sophomores Joanna Graca and Lexi Verni, who combined for 10 goals.

Graca and Verni may also see action in the midfield, where senior Angela Careddu and junior Lauren Marinello bring a great deal of experience. Freshman Eleni Sofroniou appears to be in line for major minutes, while junior Jessica Mauro and sophomore Annie Coogan will also contribute.

On the back end, junior keeper Jackie Carty has 11 career shutouts and comes off a strong campaign that saw her post an .828 save percentage (second in ECC) and 1.30 goals against average. “She has great hands and explodes to the ball,” Price said.

The defense in front of Carty is relatively young, but talented, Price said. Grad student Daria Castrogivanni will set the tone and sophomore Sabrina Bell is also a returning starter.

The Lady Lions face stiff tests out of the gate with non-conference visits from Stonehill (Friday at 7 p.m.) and Bentley (Sunday at 2 p.m.) The ECC opener is Sept. 21 at home versus Lincoln (Pa.) at noon.