2012 Men’s Soccer Preview
August 30, 2012
By John Boccacino/Sports Information Director: Since taking over the Keuka College men’s soccer program eight years ago, head coach Matt Tantalo has molded the Storm into perennial powers in the North Eastern Athletic Conference.
Keuka has posted a winning record in each of the last 12 seasons, and with a deep and talented stable of experienced returners, Tantalo’s squad seems poised to once again be among the best in the NEAC.
Six of the Storm’s top seven scorers return from last season’s squad that went 8-5-3 overall and 5-4-2 in the NEAC before falling in the quarterfinals to Lancaster Bible College.
This will be a senior-laden group, as Tantalo returns seven seniors, led by third-team All-Region midfielder/forward Nate Smith (Hilton, NY/Hilton), who led the Green and Gold in goals (eight) and points (20) while placing second in assists (four). Smith earned first-team All-NEAC for his efforts during his junior season, when Keuka earned the No. 4 seed in the NEAC postseason tournament.
Smith is one of four returners who garnered all-NEAC honors in 2011. Freshman Austin Gerber (Rochester, NY/Churchville-Chili) was named the NEAC’s inaugural Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-NEAC selection after scoring two goals with two assists.
Senior forward John Mastrella (Rochester, NY/Greece Athena) earned second-team All-NEAC after tying for the team lead with eight goals, and his 17 points was the second-highest total behind Smith. Mastrella led Keuka with seven goals against NEAC foes, including scoring two goals during games against Gallaudet, Penn State-Harrisburg and SUNY Cobleskill.
Junior Nate Schreiber (Hilton, NY/Hilton), who scored two goals and handed out five assists, gives Tantalo more depth at the midfield position than in any of his previous seven seasons.
Seniors Kyle Rivera (Horseheads, NY/Horseheads), Frank Iacovangelo (Rochester, NY/Aquinas), junior Jose Cervantes (Horseheads, NY/Horseheads) and sophomore David Caramella (Oswego, NY/Oswego) provide valuable depth for Tantalo.
“Our big strength should be how we’ve got some really good pieces to play with on the attack, maybe some of the best we’ve had in my time here,” said Tantalo, who sports a 67-40-10 record (.615 winning percentage) in his first seven seasons.
“We have one of our more technical groups and we’ll definitely possess the ball more with this group. We have some dynamic players in the midfield with good vision and distribution, we have pace up wide and up top, and we have the ingredients to have a really good attacking group.”
Senior Reis Cunningham (Red Creek, NY/Red Creek), a member of the defense, earned third-team All-NEAC honors and returns to key the defense, which lost junior goalie Derek Condon (Webster, NY/Webster Thomas), a second-team All-NEAC selection, to a full-time police academy job in Virginia.
While losing Condon hurts, Tantalo has confidence his team can survive the departure. Gerber, who excelled his freshman year as a midfielder, has been working with Tantalo and goalie coach Jon MacKerchar in goal, and Tantalo likes what he’s seen from the athletic Gerber, whom Tantalo feels can handle the rigors of playing in net.
Solid team defense will once again be the motto for the Storm, which returns Cunningham, seniors Ron Burd (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan) and Justin Ryan (Berkshire, NY/Dryden), junior Frank Koehler (Bath, NY/Bath) and sophomore John Bourgeois (Rochester, NY/Irondequoit).
Newcomer Brandon Lange (Rochester, NY/Churchville-Chili) will slide into the final starting role on defense alongside Cunningham, Ryan and Burd, said Tantalo.
Among the other freshmen, Tantalo expects steady production from midfielders Ben Schreiber (Hilton, NY/Hilton), Matt Hey (Canandaigua, NY/Marcus Whitman), Richie Weit (Rochester, NY/Churchville-Chili) and Alex Post (Spencer, NY/Spencer-Van Etten), forward Jake Altman (East Rochester, NY/East Rochester) and defender Tim Sheridan (Syracuse, NY/Westhill).
Additionally, Tantalo said he plans to work freshman Preston Vick (Kendall, NY/Kendall) into the mix in goal.
For the second straight year, Smith and Cunningham will captain the Green and Gold.
The Storm’s quest for a 13th consecutive winning campaign will kick off with the two-day, four-team Keuka College Lakefront Classic, held Friday and Saturday at the Jephson Community Athletic Complex.
Keuka opens the 2012 season against the University of Pitt-Bradford at 6:30 p.m. Friday night in the second of four Keuka Lakefront Classic contests. Wells College and D’Youville College square off at 4 p.m. in the tournament’s first game.
On Saturday, Wells and Pitt-Bradford play at 2:30 p.m., followed by the Green and Gold hosting D’Youville at 5 p.m. Keuka defeated Pitt-Bradford 2-1 in overtime during the 2011 season opener and handed D’Youville a 3-0 setback on Sept. 14, 2011.
Live stats of all home soccer games can be accessed at www.KeukaStorm.com/live-stats.
The Lakefront Classic begins a period of four straight home games to open the season for Keuka, which plays its NEAC opener at home at 3 p.m. Sept. 8 against Penn State-Abington, followed with a 3 p.m. home clash against Penn State-Berks on Sept. 9.
After a three-game road trip to Wells, Penn State-Harrisburg and Gallaudet University, the Storm returns home for a pivotal six-game homestand from Sept. 28 through Oct. 20, beginning with a 7 p.m. match against Lancaster Bible College, the team that eliminated Keuka from the 2011 NEAC postseason tournament with a 2-0 setback in the quarterfinals.
During that stretch, Keuka hosts Cazenovia at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2, SUNY Cobleskill at 3 p.m. Oct. 6, Alfred University at 7 p.m. Oct. 10, Elmira College at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 and SUNY Canton at 3 p.m. Oct. 20. Elmira appears to be the toughest non-conference clash, as the Soaring Eagles finished runners-up in the always-competitive Empire 8 Conference.
After taking on Morrisville State at 6 p.m. Oct. 23, Keuka closes out the regular season against rival SUNYIT (9-6-4, 8-0-3 NEAC), the regular-season champions and two-time defending postseason champions who fell to Western New England College, 1-0 in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
The NEAC tournament starts Oct. 31 and runs through Nov. 4, with the winner earning the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA’s. Keuka last won the NEAC postseason tournament in 2007.
“If we can play up to our standard as far as how we defend collectively, we’re going to have a very successful season,” Tantalo said. “We’re excited about where we are right now. This has been one of the best pre-seasons that we’ve had, we’re ready to play and looking forward to the weekend. We know if we continue working hard and can get better each day, we’re going to be there in the end competing for the championship.”