In just one year, the Canisius College men’s soccer team took a big step and started to make a name for itself at both the national and regional level. From 2011 to 2012, the Golden Griffins doubled their season win total and the eight victories last season are tied for the most in the program’s history against Division I competition.
A very young squad, Canisius also received votes in the national poll for the first time in school history and reached as high as second in the NSCAA North Atlantic poll, while increasing its goal differential from minus-19 to plus-2.
However, while the Griffs were still making their climb up the ladder last season, the team realized there are still a couple more steps needed before reaching the top. The goal for the 2013 campaign is to finish what it started and reach the pinnacle of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
“Our goal every year is to win a MAAC Championship,” said Canisius head coach Dermot McGrane. “I’m now entering my third season and we’re no longer a young and inexperienced team. We have a great deal of talent on the team and now, we have the maturity to match it.”
The key is for the youth of the last two seasons to take what it has learned to reach its potential in 2013. Eliminate the easy mistakes, focus on the finer details and play complete 90-minute games could lead the Griffs to reaching the top of the conference.
“Last season, we scored a lot of goals but we also gave up way too many,” McGrane said. “A lot of the goals that we conceded were the result of individual mental mistakes. I think the maturity of the team this season will eliminate a lot of those errors. We are still doing a lot of work individually and as a team to improve our defending and make us more difficult to score on.”
Perhaps the biggest area of improvement during the last 12 months was on offense. Canisius doubled its scoring output from the 2011 campaign to 2012, going from 15 goals to 30 tallies just one season later.
While the Griffs have to replace All-MAAC First Team honoree Gavin Falconer, Canisius does return NSCAA All-Regional selection Asani Samuels. Teaming with Samuels up front is a number of unique players, which will give the Griffs different looks to play with.
“We have a number of options to play up front,” said McGrane. “There is a lot of talent at the forward position and they all bring a different style and skill set to the position.”
Andrew Incho • Sr • 15gp, 1 point, 1a, 3 shots
“Andrew is always dangerous when he is on the field,” McGrane said. “He is a very athletic player who attacks the ball well in the box. His long throw-ins are also a very important weapon to our team.”
Derek Maier • Jr • 15gp, 7 shots
“Derek is looking like he is going to have the best year of his career,” McGrane said. “He came into preseason camp with a different attitude and I’m expecting big things from him this year.”
Asani Samuels • Jr • 17gp, 8 points, 4g, 48 shots
“Asani is a big, quick and athletic forward who is always a threat,” McGrane said “He demands a lot of attention from the opposition’s defense and opens up a lot of space for other players.”
Eric Ashley • So • 18gp, 12 points, 5 goals, 2 assists, 32 shots (Ashland University)
“Eric flies under the radar for a lot of the game but can pop up at any time with a goal,” McGrane said. “He has a tremendous shot and ability to hit the target.”
Mitch Cancilla • Fr • Grand Island, N.Y.
“Mitch is a strong, rugged forward who plays very well with his back to the goal,” McGrane said. “He is a very versatile player with a great first touch.”
The midfield unit is another position that is very deep and provides the Griffs with a number of options. Anchoring the unit are senior Will Hudson and junior Denver Speraman, who are also both serving as captains in 2013.
The two veterans have combined to play in 86 games during their careers and are the Griffs’ top two returning scorers with Hudson recording 13 points last season and Spearman totaling nine as a sophomore. In total, there are 10 players who will anchor the middle of the field and look to control the tempo, including a number of newcomers that can make an immediate impact.
“We return five players who all saw time in the midfield last year and give us a lot of experience there,” McGrane said. “We are also adding a number of players who will help strengthen that unit and give us a number of options depending on our opponent.”
Brandon Carnovale • Sr • 1gp
“Brandon is a versatile player with a good first touch,” McGrane said. “He could see time in the midfield or at back.”
Will Hudson • Sr • 17gp, 13 points, 5g, 3a, 19 shots
“Will Hudson is one of our key leaders and will be a captain this year,” McGrane said. “He is tremendous receiving the ball under pressure. I’m expecting him to have a dominant senior season.”
Justin Montero • Sr • 4gp, 1 shot
“Justin has dealt with a lot of injuries during his career so far,” McGrane said. “We’re really hoping that he can stay healthy for his senior year and that he will be able to contribute to the midfield or up front.”
Pat Conlon • Jr • 6gp, 2 shots
“Pat has put in a lot of work to improve in the last 12 months,” McGrane said. “He is good on the ball, has excellent technique and is capable of scoring goals.”
Andrea Conte • Jr • 6gp, 4 shots
“Andrea is another player that saw limited time last year but has really worked hard to improve in the offseason,” McGrane said. “He is very good going forward and has excellent technique.”
Denver Spearman • Jr • 14gp, 9 points, 3g, 3a, 37 shots
“Denver has a relentless work ethic,” McGrane said. “When combined with his quality of play, it makes him a very dangerous midfielder on both attack and defense.”
Chris Berardi • So • 10gp, 5 shots
“As a rookie last year, Chris got some valuable playing time and has improved a lot in the last year,” McGrane said. “He is good at going forward and is very capable of scoring goals.”
Nicoló Baudo • So • 20gp, 10 points, 4g, 2a, 29 shots (Nyack College)
“Nico has a great engine in the middle of the field,” McGrane said. “He has excellent technique and vision, which we think will allow him to make an immediate impact on our team.”
Charlie Cosentino • Fr • Rochester, N.Y.
“Charlie is a physical player with an ability to score goals,” McGrane said. “He has a great work rate and excellent movement.”
Francesco Strangio • Fr • Niagara Falls, N.Y.
“Francesco is an extremely talented player,” McGrane said. “He has the ability to control the tempo of the game with his range of passes.”
While the offense was able to see a drastic improvement in McGrane’s second campaign leading the Griffs – improving by 15 goals – the defense also improved by conceding six fewer goals. While it was an improvement, McGrane expects it to be even better during the 2013 campaign. The good news is that Canisius returns all of its contributors from last season and with another year of experience, McGrane believes the unit can match the offense with its improvement.
“We’re very fortunate to be returning all four starting defenders from last year,” McGrane said. “We also add a couple of very talented newcomers, which will increase competition for places and create added depth to the unit.”
Anchoring the unit is junior Ryan Schroen, who is also serving as team captain, and sophomore Alex De Carolis, who was one of just two underclassmen named to the MAAC All-Preseason Team.
Paul Dhaliwal • Sr • 1gp
“Paul has improved a great deal during my time here,” McGrane said. He will add depth to the unit and will compete for playing time on the outside.”
Zack Schwartz • Sr • 1gp
“Zack is another player that has shown a great deal of improvement since I arrived here,” McGrane said. “He has an excellent work rate and will add depth to the backline.”
Jon Cary • Jr • 17gp, 4 points, 1g, 2a
“Jon is a big, physical player,” McGrane said. “He has a great work rate, great awareness and is very good at going forward into the attack.”
A.C. LaFlore • Jr • 16gp, 3 shots
“A.C. LaFlore is a big, tough defender,” McGrane said. “He is very good in the air and is working on improving with the ball at his feet.”
Ryan Schroen • Jr • 17gp, 1 shot
“Ryan is one of the most intelligent defenders that I’ve seen in a long time,” McGrane said. “He has a great ability to read the game and is an outstanding 1-on-1 defender.”
Alex DeCarolis • So • 17gp, 7 points, 3g, 1a, 24 shots
“Alex is another strong defender on the outside who likes to get forward in the attack,” McGrane said. “He is a handful for any team we play against due to his athleticism and incredible work rate.”
Derek Dedman • Fr • Noblesville, Ind.
“Derek is a versatile player who will see time at holding midfielder or central defense,” McGrane said. “He has good size and is very comfortable with the ball at his feet.”
Thomas Teupen • Fr • Münster, Germany
“Thomas can play holding midfielder or central defense for us,” McGrane said. “He has a great understanding of the game and is excellent in the air. Thomas will also be a threat on attacking set pieces.”
The unit most up for grabs this season is at goalkeeper with four talented players manning the position. While the Griffs graduated Kareem Gray, who started 13-of-17 contests last season, the team does return two players who saw valuable time over the past two seasons in senior Ryan Arvin and junior Eric DeHond, who finished the 2012 campaign as the Griffs’ top netminder.
“We have three returners and one incoming goalie who are all capable of leading us this season,” McGrane said. “We are approaching it in preseason that it is a position up for grabs and basically the best one of the four is going to play.”
Ryan Arvin • Sr • 2gp, 0.81 gaa, .500 sv pct.
“Ryan has come back for his senior year and has arrived in the best shape that I have ever seen him,” McGrane said. “He looks serious about wanting to win the starting job and he has been playing well so far.”
Eric DeHond • Jr • 4gp, 2.00 gaa, .720 sv pct.
“Eric got some valuable experience last year and closed out the end of the season as the starter,” McGrane said. “He has a lot of potential and we’re looking forward to see what he can bring this season. He still has to work to make the position his.”
Reiner Dollak • Jr
“Reiner has all the tools to be a dominant Division I goalkeeper,” McGrane said. “In his first two years, the mental side of the game let him down a little. We’re hoping that he has gained some maturity in his junior year and that will help his game.”
John Hollinger • Fr • Fairfax, Va.
“John is a very athletic player and a great shot stopper,” McGrane said. “It is always tough for a freshmen to break in the starting lineup immediately but he has definitely shown a lot of potential.”
The Griffs kick off the 2013 season on Friday, August 30 with a road contest against Buckenll. Canisius then plays at St. Francis (Pa.) before returning to Buffalo to face UMass Lowell in its home opener on Sept. 8. The Griffs also host Robert Morris and in non-conference action, while playing at Buffalo, Western Michigan, Detroit and St. Bonaventure.
The quest for the 2013 MAAC Championship begins on Oct. 5, playing host to Manhattan. Canisius also welcomes Siena, Niagara, Iona and Monmouth to the Demske Sports Complex, while playing at Marist, Fairfield, Quinnipiac, Saint Peter’s and Rider during the conference season.
The top four teams during the regular season qualify for the 2013 MAAC Championship, held on the campus of Fairfield. The semifinals are slated for Nov. 15 with the title game on Nov. 17.