Mariners Open 2006 Season Saturday Night
Virginia Beach, Virginia - For the Virginia Beach Mariners, the off-season has been all about moving forward. Spirits are high and players and coaches are optimistic about the 2006 campaign. The "New Attitude" is evident everywhere.
And as head coach Jay Hoffman prepares to start his first full term at the helm of his pro soccer team, he's excited.
"Our upcoming season will be very, very competitive," he says. "I am excited about all of our new 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 acquisitions when they take the field at the Sportsplex at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night in their season opener against the Toronto Lynx.
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, midfielder Leepaul Scroggins from England, forward Greg Simmonds from Jamaica and the Charleston Battery and former Mariner Roland "Pato" Aguilera from Bolivia. Added to those are rookie goalkeeper Chase Harrisson from Virginia Tech, 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 and veteran forward McColm Cephas who is on loan from Richmond. 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 Harrisson 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."
Mariners' Managing Director Michael McCann is also looking forward to this 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 and mentally by Coach Hoffman, Assistant Coaches Jim Rooney and Remi Roy 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."
Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. Saturday night. A pregame match between the Virginia Rush U16's and the All Army Women's Soccer Team will start at 5 p.m. The All-Army team is made up of active duty and reserve soldiers from around the world.
General admission tickets are $8.00. Children ages 10 years and younger are admitted free. The first 2500 fans will receive ABNB Thundersticks and a Mariners team poster.
Season tickets are $100 and include all 14 Mariners and 8 Submariners home games, plus all home U.S. Open Cup matches played by either team. For more information about tickets or the Mariners, please call 757-430-9800 or visit www.marinerssoccer.com.
Mariners vs. Toronto
Virginia Beach Mariners
The Mariners have added firepower this season. With an ambitious nine-game preseason schedule, Virginia Beach went undefeated at 7-0-2 and outscored their opponents 20-7.
Returning players have made their mark including midfielder Tim O'Neill who scored two goals and an assist in the team's last four preseason games along with forward Jakob Fenger with one and midfielder Jeff Bilyk with another. Veteran Steve Shak had two of the assists, as did new signee Nate Micklos. Newcomers McColm Cephas, Andrew Herman and Chris Schwarze scored as well in the last four matches. Kupono Low and Ryan Mack added an assist apiece and rookie goalkeeper Chase Harrison stood well in the nets in a 3-1 win over the Jamaican side, Village United. Returning keeper Matt Nelson holds a 0.33 goals against average over three games allowing only one score.
Toronto is led by new coach Duncan Wilde, who coached the Lynx in 2004 and returns to the helm for 2006. Goalkeeper Theo Zagar, who holds virtually all of the team's goalkeeping records, returns for his seventh season along with defensive midfielder Joe Mattacchione who has also been with the club for seven campaigns. Defender Chris Williams returns for his second year and veteran Robbie Aristodemo will take the field as soon as the MISL season is completed the end of April. The team also signed rookie defender Marko Bedenikovic.
On the Sidelines
Additional events scheduled for opening night:
- Steel drum band performance by The Rhythm Project
- Nick Taylor of the Z104 Morning Zoo... your half time MC
- Seagals will dance in their debut appearance
- Chick-fil-A Kan Kan contest
- Kids fun zone
• Discuss this story on the USL First Division message board...
USL First Division Stories from April 20, 2006
- Silverbacks begin season - Atlanta Silverbacks
- Timbers open 2006 season at Vancouver Saturday - Portland Timbers
- USL First Division 2006 Preview - USL-1
- Charleston Battery teams up with Just Fresh and Bojangles - Charleston Battery
- Mariners Open 2006 Season Saturday Night - Virginia Beach Mariners
- Mariners host opening day at Virginia Beach Sportsplex - Virginia Beach Mariners
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