Lake Erie College men's soccer is going to be making a jump in competition as it enters its first campaign as a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). However, the team may be poised to make an even bigger jump from a competitive standpoint as it looks to improve on its 7-11-2 record from a season ago.
"The program is in good position," said third-year head coach Jim Buchan. "We're comfortable about the way we want to play and are really looking forward to the season."
The Storm has 10 returners, including five starters, from a season ago, led by their top offensive force, senior forward Scott Stuckey (Avon Lake, Ohio/Avon Lake). Stuckey, an All-Ohio selection in 2009, led the squad with 13 goals and tied for the team-high with four assists. His 23 career goals are fourth on Lake Erie's all-time list, just 11 shy of the top spot.
"Scott's a natural-born goal scorer," explained Buchan. "If he's anywhere near the 18-foot box there's always the potential for him to hit target."
This season, Stuckey won't be expected to go it alone at the head of the Storm's set. Junior forward Marco Gaudio (Cambridge, England/Impington Village College) transfers to Painesville from the College of Southern Maryland. Last season, Gaudio was a junior college All-American honorable mention selection after leading the country in scoring with 41 goals.
"With Marco up front, it takes some of the pressure off of Scott and the pair should make for a nice double-threat," said Buchan.
Gaudio is one of three standout newcomers along with junior midfielder Gary Carr (Dublin, Ireland/Irish Coláiste Íde College of Further Education Soccer Academy) and freshman midfielder Nathan Bias (Dayton, Ohio/Kettering Fairmont). Carr is also a transfer from the College of Southern Maryland, where he was named to the All-Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference team.
"These three have definitely brought a sense of urgency and a new dynamic to the program," explained Buchan. "We've got the possibility to make a big jump this season from where we were last year."
Joining those two in the midfield are a slew of returners including senior Justin Mihaley (Lowellville, Ohio/Ursuline)and sophomores Rob Searles (Chardon, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin), who tied Stuckey with four assists, and Patrick Murphy (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside).
Junior Kyle Roesch (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon), a starter in every game a season ago, will anchor the defense in front of sophomore goalkeeper Ricky Carreira (Toronto, Ont./Dante Alighieri Academy). Carreira saw action in 10 games with seven starts in 2009 making 56 saves.
"Ricky has improved a ton and he works hard at his game," said Buchan. "He makes some great saves and still has a great amount of potential."
GLIAC play won't be completely new as the Storm went 2-3 against conference foes in 2009, with road wins at Northwood University and Saginaw Valley State University. Lake Erie often will be in new territory this season as 11 of its 18 games come on the road, including a six-game stretch from September 10-28. Lake Erie opens the season at Wheeling Jesuit University on Thursday, September 2 and comes home on Sunday, September 5 to take on Urbana College at 2:00 p.m. The conference schedule starts on Wednesday, September 8 at 4:30 when Ashland University travels to Painesville.
"Unfortunately the schedule is a little bit one-sided as far as going away from home," said Buchan. "It's a tough schedule and we made it that way because we want to get in position to compete nationally. Wheeling Jesuit and Ashland are always strong, so right off the bat we'll see how good we are in those early games."