Cats remain big contender for league

After losing a significant senior class, the Preseason Coaches’ Poll predicted the University of Vermont men’s soccer team to finish third in the 2013 American East division.

The defending American East champions, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, received the majority of the first place votes by opposing coaches. 

Following their impressive run into the tournament last season, Stony Brook was also recognized as a strong competitor for the championship.

The Catamounts are once again led by head coach Jesse Cormier. After winning the regular season title last year, while going undefeated during conference play, Cormier and his staff were named conference Coaching Staff of the Year. 

This was the second time in program history that a UVM coaching staff has received this prestigious honor. 

Cormier hopes that his returning players will contribute success on both the attacking and defensive side of the ball.

After earning All-Conference recognition in 2012, seniors Conor Leland and Scott Kisling will provide leadership for the Catamounts defense. 

Leland received conference First Team honors and was the American East Goalkeeper of the Year, while leading the league in goals against average (0.81), save percentage (.841), and shutouts (6).

Kisling was named to the 2012 American East All-Academic and All-Conference Second Teams for his impressive defensive play throughout the season.

Despite losing key members of the team, the Catamounts added depth with impressive recruiting.

 “There’s certainly talent, but we will have to find a new identity with this group and that is something I am really looking forward to building with this team,” said Cormier.

The men’s soccer program welcomes 13 newcomers for the 2013 season who hope to make an immediate impact on a young and determined Catamount squad. 

To compensate some of the attacking ammunition that was lost from last season, Cormier brought in Jackson Dayton (San Francisco, Calif.), Shane Haley (Hinesburg, Vt.), Daniel Kuczynski (Toronto, Ontario), Rijad Mezetovic (Essex Junction, Vt.), Brian Wright (Ajax, Ontario) and Bernard Yeboah (Worcester, Mass.). Cormier is confident that these newly recruited players will combine the speed, strength, and character that will aid the Catamount attack.

In midfield, Cormier was impressed by the talent of Daniel Giron (Guatemala City, Guatemala), Anthony Saccone Jr. (Gales Ferry, Conn.), Matt Venanzi (Pittsburgh, Pa.). 

Versatility is an important part of the UVM midfield and these players bring skill and leadership. Cormier said he believes that they can improve the midfield play. Cormier also stated that “(Venanzi) has a good background having played in the Big East for Pitt and adds a technical passing element to our midfield. 

He was outstanding at the club level and we feel has a creative ability to unlock the game. He will make us better in the midfield from day one.”

While few anchors still remain in the UVM defense, Cormier added Christopher Brasile (Glenshaw, Pa.), Bret Perisho (Stow, Mass.),  Luke Salmon (Newcastle, England),  Eric Venezia (Tolland, Conn.) in order to re-establish toughness and determination in the backline. While Brasile, Perisho, and Salmon will bolster the defense, “(Venezia) will make our current goalkeeper situation more competitive. He has the experience from the club level (Oakwood) and at a top prep school (Loomis Chaffee) to make the jump to our level,” said Cormier.

Vermont begins their 2013 season on Aug 30 at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The Cats then travel to Buffalo, N.Y. on Sept 1. The Catamounts home opener is set for Sept. 6 when UVM hosts the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Windjammer Classic. The tournaments ‘first day of competition includes Vermont against Colgate College at 4 p.m. at Virtue Field.