DOVER, Del. – With a strong group of upperclassmen returning to the team in 2018, the Wesley College men's soccer team looks primed to compete with the best of the best in the inaugural season of the AEC.
"There's a good feeling of 'newness' with joining the AEC," stated 29-year head coach Steve Clark. "It gives us more flexibility in our schedule, playing new teams and seeing great teams we haven't played much since we left the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference. The new challenge has revitalized the lads and we look forward to this season."
One of the key returners this season is senior forward Chimaobi (Chimo) Ikwuagwu, who was an All-Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) First Team honoree in 2017. He led the team in scoring with 16 points and eight goals.
"We know that Chimo had a tremendous season last year, but we need him to be more of a playmaker this year. He didn't have any assists last year so if he is able to deliver on the pitch with goals and assists and adapt his game, he would be able to be a valuable asset to our team."
Joining Ikwuagwu in the attacking third is junior Luis Cruz and sophomore Darius-David Robinson. Robinson ranked second on the team last year in goals (6) and points (13). Cruz tallied two assists and a goal in 2017.
"Garza and Hood went over and spent part of their summer in Italy playing and working on their game. They've played well in the preseason and are leaning on their leadership this season."
Joining Hood and Garza in the midfield is sophomore Kevin Flores-Gomez who made 11 starts on defense last season.
The defensive third will be paced by junior Matthew Dina, who missed last season due to injury. Dina along with Andrea Carboni, Kyle Fields and Cristian Chavez will look to shut down opposing scoring threats this season.
"We missed Matt greatly last season. He is someone with a lot of potential and we expect a lot from him. So far in training, he has delivered and seems to be healthy."
Junior goalkeeper Kyle Springsteen will be between the pipes for the Wolverines and looking to improve on a 2017 season where he notched 56 saves.
The Wolverines were picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic East Conference Preseason Poll. Cabrini collected 36 points and six first-place votes en route to being named the favorite to win the conference. Neumann collected the last remaining first-place vote and was slated to finish second with 30 points.
"My expectation for the entire team is to develop and put forth great effort every game. We were in a lot of close games last season, so we have to finish and play hard for all 90 minutes."
The Wolverines open the season on Friday when they host the Cairn Highlanders. Kickoff from Drass Field is set for 1:30 p.m.