North Adams, MA- The MCLA Men's Soccer will kick off the 2012 season this Friday evening when they travel to Norwich for the Cadet Invitational Soccer Tournament. The Trailblazers are eager to begin the season as they look to improve upon last season's 5-10-1 mark.
Led by head coach Adam Hildabrand, MCLA is an experience laden bunch as many veterans return. MCLA returns 19 letter winners while adding 6 newcomers. Hildabrand is excited to see the development of his troops beginning this weekend and is pleased with preseason practices so far.
"We are in need of players to step up and play a more active role from a year ago. We are a relatively young team with a lot of playing experience, we just need to mature as a unit," Hildabrand stated with excitement with an eye towards the opener. MCLA does return their top two scorers from a year ago in Jake McCall and Joseph Mecca, however only four other players recorded a point last season.
Both the front running McCall and Mecca will be tough up front. They each possess good ball skills and are quick with the ball. McCall was named a co-captain in 2012. MCLA tallied only 13 goals in 2011 while allowing 22. The Trailblazer offense will need to improve if they want to make the jump up the conference standings.
Another captain, senior Ryan Shewchuk, will be asked to control the middle of the field.
Defensively, the Trailblazers return both keepers in Dillon Wager and Shawn Willis. The duo started all 17 games with Wager earning 11 starts. The backline is also experienced with veterans Scott Winslow and James Brown returning.
The MASCAC race should be exciting as well. New in 2012 is a six team playoff format (formally four teams qualified) with the top two teams earning a bye into the semifinals. MCLA was on the outside looking in a year ago as they finished with a 1-5-1 mark in conference play.
The Trailblazers open play this Friday as they play Newbury in the aforementioned Cadet Classic. MCLA will also host the annual CIAO classic on September 8th and 9th. The tournament will feature Union (NY), Salve Regina, and SUNY-IT. MASCAC play will open on September 15th when MCLA travels to Salem State.