Brock men’s soccer team looks to improve on their ninth place finish in the OUA West conference last season with strong recruits and leadership from key veteran players. Second year head coach Lucio Ianiero and his staff spent the off-season looking for players to help the Badgers grow in talent and skill.
“We need improvements in our defence and our goal scoring,” said Ianiero. Last season, the Badgers averaged just one goal per-game, ahead of just Algoma and Royal Military College in the OUA. Their goals against in sixteen games were a whopping 36.
Brock hosted their first open tryout on August 15, and with 75 players on the pitch, Ianiero and his staff had quite the task to cut that down to the final roster.
“Find some better talent, looking at players that can offer more skill,” Ianiero said of what his staff wanted to accomplish this off-season as well as at open tryouts. “We recruited six or seven players to come in, and we’re making small strides in improving.”
The Badgers signed four new recruits prior to tryouts are Jordan Smalling, Alejandro Puentes, Andrew Baldin and Jaden Rampersaad. Three of the four are midfielders, which will help the Badgers set up an offensive attack.
Ianiero mentioned Mike Pamela, a senior midfielder from St. Catharines, and Eric Bradey, a defenceman, who was Brock’s male athlete of the year in 2016, as two strong veteran players who will continue to help push the Brock program to where it needs to be.
York and McMaster are expected to be atop the standings, two teams that Brock will play twice this season, including back-to-back on September 16 and 17. Brock will also make the ten hour trip to Algoma this season to play two games against the Thunderbirds on Sept. 30 and October 1.
“I think with the complement of our new rookies we have the potential to have a great season,” said Ianiero. “Some players will be able to play more freely,” Ianiero referred to their improvement in skill since this past season.
The Badgers will open their season with three consecutive home games, starting with Laurier on August 25. In counter, the Badgers will close the season with three consecutive road games. The last time the Badgers won a game on the road was two seasons ago, beating Algoma 2-1.
Brock has also only won more than two games once in the past five seasons. It’ll be interesting to see if the freshman players can contribute right away, as the Badgers will need to take advantage of their early home-friendly schedule.
Two of the strongest programs in the OUA over the last few seasons have been York and Ryerson. York has won three of the last four OUA championships, and if there’s a program the Badgers need to aim to become is the Lions. Their ability to consistently win from year to year, with roster turnovers, is something any program in the OUA wishes they could have.