Cats ready to follow up championship year

The UVM men’s soccer team is poised for another successful season and hopes to build on their America East champion- ship and NCAA Tournament appearance from the 2015 season.

The team kicked off its season with an impressive 3-2 overtime victory over California State University, Fullerton Aug. 26.

They were led by senior forward Brian Wright, who scored the game-winning goal in over- time, and senior forward Bernard Yeboah, who scored the two goals in regulation.

The goal was reminiscent of Wright’s overtime goal in the America East Championship last season against Binghamton University, which sent UVM to the NCAA tournament.

The Catamounts will return home to the renovated Virtue Field for the Peter Baldwin Memorial Classic after they travel to play Central Connecticut State University Aug. 29.

UVM will face off against Sacred Heart University Sept. 2 and Long Island University, Brooklyn Sept. 4 in front of their home crowd at Virtue Field.

Last year’s team improved toward the end of the season, but head coach Jesse Cormier emphasized consistency through the entire season. “We’re looking to have a better start to the season, be fitter, sharper and be more competitive early,” Cormier said.

Senior midfielder and captain Jackson Dayton believes that the team has plenty of talent on their roster.

“Entering this season, we definitely have the most talented group I’ve seen in my four years,” Dayton said.

The Catamounts also return their three leading goal scorers from last season, senior forward Brian Wright, who scored to send the Catamounts to the NCAA tournament last season, senior forward Bernard Yeboah, and junior forward/midfielder Stefan Lamanna.

The returning players will be joined by an incoming class of 11 newcomers; eight first-years and three transfers, according to UVM athletics.

These new additions are all expected to contribute to the team in different ways.

“Once we are able to integrate the new guys into our system and build a strong chemistry, we are looking to build off our finish last fall and have an even better season,” Dayton said.

But Coach Cormier knows winning pressure-filled games are most important, and spoke to the importance of peaking at the end of the season.

“We will also be looking to improve as the season moves along to have our best performances at the critical times at the end of the season,” he said.

After a formidable non-conference schedule to open the season, the Catamounts begin conference play as the defend- ing champions of the America East Conference Oct. 1.

A preseason poll, conducted by head coaches in the America East, predicted the Catamounts would finish in second place in the conference this season, only trailing the University of Albany, last year’s regular season conference champions.

“Coming back as defending conference champions, we definitely feel like we have a target on our back. Every team we play is going to bring their ‘A game’ against us, so we need to make sure we don’t take any games off,” Dayton said.

Even though many of team’s accomplished players graduated in May, the future is bright for the Catamounts.

“We have the ability to be one of the best soccer teams Vermont has had in the program’s 50-year history,” Dayton said.