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Mariners announce return of nine starters

February 15, 2004 - USL First Division (USL-1) - Virginia Beach Mariners News Release

Virginia Beach, Virginia – The Virginia Beach Mariners announce the return of eleven players from the 2003 season including nine starters. Among the returnees is forward Dante Washington who finished last season ranked third in the A-League in points with 37 and ranked second in goals with 18 in 26 games. Joining Washington is midfielder Pato Aguilera who ranked sixth in the League in points with 29 and ninth in goals with 10. He also ranked third in assists with 9. Both Washington and Aguilera were named First Team All A-League.

Also among last seasonÂ’s starters who will be joining the 2004 team is Roy Lassiter, Major League SoccerÂ’s all-time leading scorer. Lassiter finished 2003 ranked 19th in the League in points with 20.

Joining Washington and Lassiter up top will be forward Jakob Fenger who scored 11 points in 2003, with 5 goals and 1 assist. He was tied for the league-lead in games played with 28. Midfielder Hamisi Amani-Dove will also return after playing in 27 matches last year and scoring 9 points (2 goals and 5 assists), as well as midfielder Jeff Bilyk who missed the last seven games of the 2003 season with a broken leg suffered against Charleston on August 12. Midfielder Daniel Alvarez who scored one goal and 2 assists will also return, as well as midfielder/forward, Gary Williams.

The MarinersÂ’ defense, tauted as one of the LeagueÂ’s best, remains mostly intact with the return of Russell Hutchison, Steve Danbusky and sweeper Richard Mahoney.. Danbusky tied with teammate Jakob Fenger in games played with 28. Hutchison, who was named to the A-League Team of the Week twice in a three-period last season, ranked third in the League among defenders in points with ten scoring four goals and two assists. One of those goals qualified the Mariners for the U.S. Open Cup.

“It is nice to have continuity,” said Mariners’ head coach Shawn McDonald. “This should help us be very competitive from the start.”

The Mariners open their 2004 season on April 30 in Richmond and open their home season the following night, May 1, against Richmond at the Sportsplex at 7:30 p.m. Both matches will double as Open Cup qualifiers.

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