Hudson Valley Men's Soccer Season Preview
Vikings Open With Seventh-Ranked Springfield Tech on Saturday
CONTACT: Steve Mullen (518) 629-8063
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Thursday, September 4, 2003
It's no longer a goal, but an expectation for the Hudson Valley Community College men's soccer team to find itself in the postseason. Over the last seven years, the Vikings have earned a trip to the Region III tournament six times and have posted a 75-39-6 record since 1996. Hudson Valley also has found itself within the national rankings each of those six years, including last season, when the Vikings finished 11-7 and were ranked 14th in the final National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) regular season poll.
However, fourth-year head coach John Meehan doesn't take wins for granted.
"It's nice to be one of the teams to beat, but we need to play well to win," said Meehan. "We have a very tough schedule this season."
The Vikings have several reasons to be optimistic about the 2003 season, beginning with the return of last year's leading scorer. Forward Rafael Luna (Albany/Albany High School) netted a team-high eight goals and dished out 11 assists as a freshman.
"Rafael has all the tools," said Meehan "He distributes the ball well and has a great shot with both feet."
Luna will receive help up front from freshman Mike Vooris (Castleton/Maple Hill High School), who earned First Team All-State honors as a senior in high school last year.
Sophomores Roberto Besso (Colonie/South Colonie High School) and Chris Jakubiak (Ballston Spa/Ballston Spa High School) return in the midfield. Besso scored four goals and dished out four assists in 2002 while Jakubiak contributed two assists.
A motorcycle accident forced sophomore Jonathan Nowak (Bethlehem/Bethlehem High School) to sit out last season after a great freshman campaign in 2001. A starting defenseman for the Vikings in 2001, Nowak helped lead Hudson Valley to a 12-4 record and No. 9 ranking in the final NJCAA poll. He is joined on defense by sophomore Jake Stevens
(Hoosick Falls/Hoosick Falls High School), who last laced up his cleats for Hudson Valley in 2000.
Freshman Joe Simon (Pittsfield, MA/Pittsfield High School) is expected to get the starting nod in goal.
The schedule is daunting. Five of the top 10 teams in the NJCAA preseason poll are on the slate. Hudson Valley opens its season at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 6 against seventh-ranked Springfield Tech. The Vikings will travel to second-ranked and defending regional champion Herkimer County Community College on September 13. Eighth ranked North Country Community College and No. 5 Ulster County Community College visit on September 21 and September 25, respectively. Tenth-ranked Mohawk Valley Community College travels to Hudson Valley on October 11.