Mariners Coach Jay Hoffman Looks Forward To A Very Competitive Season
Virginia Beach, Virginia - As Virginia Beach Mariners head coach Jay Hoffman prepares for his first full season at the helm of his pro soccer team, his excitement shows.
"Our upcoming season will be very, very competitive," says Hoffman. "I am excited about all of our acquisitions. We have a very good core of players here from last year but we knew we needed help and we got it."
Hoffman will be watching his veterans and those new to the squad when they take the field at the Sportsplex at 7 p.m. on Saturday in an exhibition against the Richmond Kickers, the first half of a home and away series for the James River Cup.
The returning veterans include midfielders Jeff Bilyk, Felix Brillant, Josh Nolz, Tim O'Neill and Steve Shak. Forward Jakob Fenger also returns along with defenders Steve Danbusky, Russell Hutchison and Alan Woods. Goalkeeper Matt Nelson will again be minding the nets.
New additions to this year's squad include five international veterans - defender Craig Demmin from Trinidad and the Rochester Rhinos, defensive midfielder Shane McFaul from Dublin, forward Greg Simmonds from Jamaica and the Charleston Battery, former Mariner Roland "Pato" Aguilera from Bolivia and forward McColm Cephas who is on loan from Richmond. Added to those are rookies, goalkeeper Chase Harrison from Virginia Tech, midfielder Leepaul Scroggins from England, veteran defensive midfielder Kupono Low whose last club was the Sligo Rovers in Ireland, three-time NSCAA/Adidas All-American forward Nate Micklos from the University of Rochester. The club has also added defender Chris Schwarze from the PDL's Nevada Wonders, and midfielder/forward Ryan Mack from Syracuse.
"We have brought in players who will add a different dimension and who will make a difference," says Hoffman. "Greg Simmonds can hold the ball and brings a different game in the air. McColm Cephas from Richmond runs at people - he's quick and he's fast. Chase Harrison is a very good young keeper who came highly recommended and he can play at this level. We know we needed help in the middle and back and the acquisition of Demmin, Schwarze and Low allows us the option of playing Woods in the back."
As the Mariners look forward to Richmond this weekend Hoffman adds, "Richmond and the Mariners had a good rivalry in Division I, one that generated excitement. Even though the Kickers have gone down to Division II, the James River Cup will keep that rivalry going." The second half of the home and away series will be played in Richmond at 7 p.m. on April 15 at University of Richmond Stadium.
Richmond returns ten players in 2006, including seven starters. Among them are goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale and defender Tim Brown.
"We will still come out with the same passion, intensity and pride that we've always had when playing the Mariners," says Richmond Kickers Vice-President/General Manager Paul Sterbenz. "It's a great rivalry."
Mariners' Managing Director Michael McCann is also looking forward to this weekend, to the rivalry and to the upcoming season:
"We have assembled a strong core of our 2005 players, added some real USL experience and thrown in some proven young players. They are well prepared physically by Coach Hoffman, Assistant Coaches Jim Rooney and Remi Roy, and with four difficult games scheduled over the next two weeks have the opportunity to prepare mentally for the exciting season ahead."
"We committed to the fans a competitive team, which is in place. Like any professional team, it needs its vocal supporters to lift the home advantage even higher and we hope that all Mariners' fans will join us in welcoming the team back on April 22nd at the Sportsplex for the opening game of the USL 1 schedule."
"A first preview available for Mariners fans will be on April 8th in the James River Cup which we hope will find its way back to Virginia Beach for the first time in ten years."
Gates for the Richmond match on Saturday night April 8 will open at 6 p.m. The Mariners' regular season opener on April 22 against Toronto will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and gates will open at 6:30 p.m. General admission tickets for both matches are $8.00. Season ticket holders and children 10 years and younger are admitted free. Tickets for all games can be purchased in advance by phone (757) 430-9800 or online at www.marinerssoccer.com.
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USL First Division Stories from April 7, 2006
- Thunder update - Minnesota Thunder
- Mariners Coach Jay Hoffman Looks Forward To A Very Competitive Season - Virginia Beach Mariners
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