MORAGA, Calif. — Currently four days into training camp, the Saint Mary's men's soccer squad continues to work together, and build the team chemistry in all positions as season kickoff is just five days away in a home exhibition versus Sonoma State.
In a first of three series highlighting the different positional groups, let's take a look at the team's defensive unit for 2017.
Veterans in Goal
The Gaels will have not one, but two key returners to man the net and backline in 2017. Senior Andrew Konstantino and redshirt sophomore Remi Prieur will again provide the experience and leadership to help direct the defensive line.
“Having Tino [Konstantino] and Remi [Prieur] minding the net is imperative,” said Saint Mary's head coach Adam Cooper.
“It is nice to have guys who have both played significant minutes in college soccer. They know and understand what it takes to win as goalkeepers and know what their defenders need to do to win.”
The Gaels will carry a third keeper on their roster, with freshman Nicholas Lapinid joining the squad. A 5-10 keeper from Simi Valley, Lapinid collected 70 saves during his time at Royal High School.
Youth on the Backline
After losing graduating seniors Rafael Sanchez, Lukas Isaacson and Alex Braman, Cooper and his staff had to add more depth and numbers to the Gaels defense. SMC did just that, adding a crop of seven newcomers.
“The newcomers are adapting well, stated Cooper. “Our two exhibition games will really tell how quickly they are adapting, but I certainly expect several of the new guys to play significant roles for us this season.”
The defense will also feature three international players who will fight for a starting role. Sophomore Filippo Zattarin (Padua, Italy), and seniors Sem Kroon (6-4, Alkmaar, Netherlands) and Tobias Clauss (6-2, Plochingen, Germany) offer global experience and physical size to the Gaels defense.
Getting up to Speed
Despite the new faces, the Gaels also have veterans to lead the newcomers ahead of the new season. With the likes of Erik Lyons, Ben Braman, Jeremiah Michael and the keepers, Cooper and the staff are pleased to see the quick progression of the defensive unit.
“The guys have been pretty sharp in preseason thus far,” said Cooper who is now in his 12th season. “We are working on getting organized defensively as best as we can, and giving the guys ideas and freedom on the attacking side of the ball. We have a good amount of returners who are adept to this and the new guys are picking it up quickly.”
SMC begins the 2017 season with a pair of home exhibition matches in August versus Sonoma State and Bay Area rival Cal. SMC will host Sonoma State on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. and take on the Golden Bears two days later on August 19.
Season, single match and group tickets to attend Saint Mary's men's soccer matches are now open for purchase. Tickets will be available online here or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTX (4689).
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