As Lourdes University takes to the pitch for the 2019 men’s soccer season, the Gray Wolves have a new look.
Head coach Matt Johnson takes over the program and leads a squad looking to improve upon a 3-12-1 record overall and a 2-8-1 mark in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference one season ago. Johnson returns 17 players from last year’s roster, and has brought in seven newcomers, including four freshmen and three transfers.
The Gray Wolves return three goalkeepers from last year’s roster, all of whom were in their rookie season at Lourdes. Ali Chokr earned WHAC Defensive Player of the Week honors last season, on his way to posting a 2.47 goals against average, while Garrett Baxley registered a .692 save percentage in more than 320 minutes of action. Jorge Mendoza will enter the mix this season as well after sitting out last year as a redshirt while recovering from an injury. With the experience the trio gained with a full season of collegiate soccer under their belt, Lourdes looks to be much improved this year in goal.
Lourdes also returns a solid backline heading into 2019. Brendon Long was the only player on the roster to appear in every match last season, starting all 16 for the Gray Wolves. N’Fally Diallo was also a mainstay on defense and is coming off a strong spring season while Robert Pereznegron was solid in his freshman campaign last year. Cameron Poslaiko returns in the back third as well for the Gray Wolves, giving the team a great deal of depth on defense. Freshman Lucas Bosch will look to make an immediate impact this season as well.
In the midfield, senior Reese Riccardi will be looked upon to play a big role this season for the Gray Wolves. He enters his second season as a team captain. Jose Esteves Silveira and Nick Kekich also provide plenty of returning experience for Lourdes in the middle third. Senior Tyler Rogers has also transitioned to the midfield this season after playing defense for the Gray Wolves during the first three seasons of his career. Several newcomers will also be vying for time in the midfield this season. Ben Noud played for Coach Johnson at Marygrove two seasons ago while Amin Elbashir has transferred to Lourdes from Lassen Community College. Andris Klempert and Josh Varney enter the program as freshmen, looking to make their marks early.
Up top, the Gray Wolves look for more offensive production this season after scoring just 13 times in 16 matches one year ago. Farouk Amoo was injured early last season and issued a medical redshirt, and returns ready to lead the offense. Risaiah Osborne begins his final season looking to spark the offense while Jared Poslaiko found the back of the net for the first time during his rookie season in 2018. Olawole Ogunsanya also returns for Lourdes looking to make an impact this season. With not a lot of goal scoring returning, the Gray Wolves will look to attack by committee until someone steps up. Marlon Taite has been with the program for a year, but sat out as a redshirt last season, and looks to make his debut on the field this season. Freshmen Darius Passley-Bennett and Kevin Gonzalez will look to spark the offense in their freshmen seasons as well.
Lourdes opens the 2019 season on Aug. 20 with a trip to Taylor, as the Gray Wolves play five of their first seven matches away from home. The home opener is slated for Aug. 31 against Indiana East.
As 2019 kicks off, Lourdes will look for more offense while solidifying the defense in the quest to move up the WHAC standings. The Gray Wolves finished in a tie for 10th place one year ago, and are in quest of returning to the WHAC tournament for the first time since the inaugural 2015 season.