The Season Starts on Thursday
August 23, 2023
The teams have been practicing and ready to play the games. Two of our Philly teams went to the NCAA Tournament last season. The University of Pennsylvania won a game, and want to grow from that experience. Drexel went to the CAA Championship game and are eager to return. The city schools also look forward the the rivalry of the Soccer Six. Let’s take a look at the teams as the season begins.
The University of Pennsylvania Quakers
After a successful season in which the Red and Blue played two games in the NCAA Tournament, the team secured a spot in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25 poll. The Quakers are ranked 25th and join #20 Cornell representing the Ivy League. Penn defeated Rutgers before losing in overtime to Syracuse last November.
There are four Ivy award winners returning to the team. The Offensive Player of the Year Stas Korzeniowski is ready for another season. He tied Ben Stitz as the team’s leading goal scorer with 11, and was second in points getting 28. The league Defensive Player of the Year Leo Burney returns. The junior scored 5 goals and assisted twice. All-Ivy goalie Nick Christoffersen comes off a season where he made 47 saves for a .77 percentage. The senior gave up 14 total goals giving him a .77 goals against average. Christoffersen posted 7 shutouts. All three players were Philadelphia Soccer Six honorees. Defender Ben Do made Ivy Honorable Mention in addition to being named the Soccer Six Rookie of the Year. He will be on the back line.
Also returning is senior midfielder Michael Hewes. Last season Hewes ranked third on the team in goals (6) and points (13).
Penn opens the season on September 1 at Fordham. The Quakers have three more road games before coming home for a September 16 game against UAlbany. The Cornell game is slated for October 7th at Penn Park.
The Dragons come into the season being picked for 7th place in the Coastal Athletic Association preseason poll. Hofstra got 9 first place votes, and was named as the preseason favorite.
Junior defender Youri Senden was the one Dragon on the Preseason All-CAA Men’s Soccer Team. Senden played in all 18 games last season where he was second on the team in minutes with 1,368. He was an All-CAA First Team player as well as being on the Philadelphia Soccer 6 All-Star Team.
Two of the team’s leading scorers from 2022 return. Graduate midfielder Harrison Coron led the team in goals finding the back of the net 5 times. He assisted once for a team-high 11 points. Senior forward Josh Pulla was just behind with 4 goals and 2 assists for 10 points.
Graduate midfielder Antonio Illuminato scored 9 points with his 3 goals matching 3 assists, and was named to the Soccer Six All-Rookie Team.
In goal will be Alessandro Capogna. He posted 6 shutouts last season and had a 1.06 goals against average. The senior made 61 saves for a .763 save percentage. He was named to the Philadelphia Soccer Six All-Rookie Team.
Drexel begins the season on the road in a Philadelphia Soccer Six match against Saint Joseph’s.
In the new BIG EAST format there will be two divisions, East and Midwest. Villanova will play in the East and was picked for a fifth-place tie with Connecticut. Georgetown is the East favorite while Creighton holds the poll top spot in the Midwest. Akron joins the league this season as an affiliate member bringing the number of conference soccer teams to 12. The BIG EAST postseason tournament will expand to eight teams.
Two of the top three scorers for the Wildcats will not return. However, team-leading scorer Balthi Saunders is back. The junior forward scored 3 goals and had 9 assists for 15 points. His 9 assists was tops in the Soccer Six, and he was named to the All-Star Team. Also coming back is senior forward Akinjide Awujo who registered 3 goals and 3 assists.
Kent Dickey will be in the goalie position. He started in all 17 games and played every minute, giving up 20 scores for a 1.18 goals against average. Dickey made 64 saves (.762 save percentage) and turned in 6 clean slates.
Villanova opens the season on August 27 at Albany. The team will play its first game at the Higgins Soccer Complex on Labor Day against Michigan State.
The Cherry and White sees turnover in the roster for the upcoming season. The top six scorers from the 2022 season are not on the 2023 roster. Temple was selected for 9th place in the American Preseason Men’s Soccer Poll garnering 9 points. At the top it was close, but FIU was selected first with 59 points (5 first place votes) and Tulsa was picked second with 55 votes (3 first place ballots). SMU got third with 53 points South Florida got a first place vote to come in fourth place. If the preseason selections are accurate this should be a good, competitive conference season.
Returning this season with the most points from last year is George Medill. The sophomore midfielder scored a goal and added 2 assists for 4 points. He was selected for the Philadelphia Soccer Six All-Rookie Team. Medill started in 9 of the 14 games in which he played.
In goal Micah Ramirez is the incumbent. He played in 5 games last season for a total of 375:08 minutes. The sophomore saved 22 shots on goal for a .688 save percentage.
The Owls will be youthful as they have 10 freshmen and 9 sophomores on the 29-player roster. The season begins on August 24 at Monmouth. The initial game at the Temple Sports Complex is on September 5 against city rival Saint Joseph’s.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks
The Hawks came in tied for 9th place in the Atlantic 10 Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll. Both the Hawks and the Davidson Wildcats garnered 75 points. Saint Louis Billikens is the poll first place team getting 195 points and all but one first place vote. Dayton was second (161 points) and Loyola of Chicago placed third (158) and got the only other first place vote.
Last season the Hawks posted a 2 – 2 – 4 record in the Atlantic 10 and gave up a mere 6 goals in conference games. The two league defeats represents the least number of such losses in program history.
The top two returning scorers from the 2022 season are Blake Driehuis and Kenyatta Collins. Driehuis, a junior forward scored 2 goals and assisted once for 5 points, third-best on that team. Collins, a senior on defense, scored 2 goals that were game-winners. The resident of Clayton, NJ started 10 of the 12 games he played for SJU, and played all 90 minutes eight times. Sophomore defender Phillip Wujewitsch played a full 90 minutes in 13 of his 15 games. He was named to the Soccer Six All-Rookie Team.
Lars Haavie is the incumbent in goal. The junior from Norway started 3 games. He gave up 7 goals in 270 minutes for a 2.33 goals against average. Haavie made 14 saves for a .667 save percentage.
The defense has returning talent.
Saint Joseph’s opens the season on August 24th hosting city rival Drexel on Hawk Hill.
La Salle Explorers
A fellow A-10 member with Saint Joe’s. In the preseason poll La Salle placed 12th with 52 points.
Returning is Giammarco Rodio. The junior forward scored 4 goals and recorded 2 assists for 10 points, third highest on the team. The two players ahead will not be on the pitch this season for La Salle. Justin Brunow, senior forward, scored 6 points last season with a goal and 4 assists. They are the highest point scorers that will provide the experience in 2023.
In goal the trio of Valentin Kneis, Filip Sabatti, and Zac Moore are back. Sabatti and Kneis split most of the work last season. The group combined for a goals against average of 1.89 making 72 saves (.679 save percentage). The opponents scored 34 goals. Sabatti had all 3 shutouts for the Explorers.
Rodio and Sabatti were named to the Soccer Six all-Rookie Team.
The season begins of August 24 at Stonehill.
Written By: Glenn Papazian