PRESQUE ISLE, ME - The University of Maine at Presque Isle men's soccer team enters the 2017 season with optimism running high. With the return of 11 quality players from last year's team and the addition of 12 talented first year players, Head Coach Alan Gordon is confident that this year's Owls team is ready to meet the challenges of both the ACAA Conference as well as the strong USCAA schedule.
Leading the list of returning players are senior captains Chris Daly (Kingfield, ME) and Matt Manter (Caribou, ME) who will anchor the Owls defense as the teams center back and Keeper. Daly is four year starter who has been named to the NCAA DIII All-Independent team during his stellar and will bring the skill, composure and mentality to lead the young Owl squad. Manter stepped into the starting goal keeper position last season and his outstanding play earned him a spot on the NCAA DIII All-Independent team.
Joining them in the back line will be junior Brandon Danforth (East Millinocket, ME) who's speed and quickness will help to limit the talented offensive lineups the Owls will face during the 2017 campaign. Sophomore Chad Bartlett (Bradley, ME), who started at both midfield and back as a freshman last season, will give the defense a strong physical presence and the skill to help the Owls build their offensive attack.
Third year senior captain Sean Barbosa (Caribou, ME) will begin his third season as the Owls center midfielder and has both the offensive skills as well as the defensive intensity to control the middle of the field. Senior captain Michael Guerrette (Presque Isle, ME) will join Barbosa at the midfield and has the experience and knowledge to help lead the Owls to a second consecutive conference playoff appearance. Senior Brandon Fuller (St. Albans, ME) and Sophomores Matt Caron (Caribou,ME), Parker Thompson (Washburn, ME), and Allen Stanback (Salem, NJ) will all challenge for starting positions in the back and midfield spots. All four bring the work ethic and desire to step into the starting lineup.
Junior forward Cody Blair (Ashland, ME) returns for his third season as one of the Owls top offensive threats. Blair was named to the NCAA DIII All-Independent team his freshman season and has been one of the Owls top scorers his first two seasons. Blair will be joined up front by freshman striker Christopher Udobi from Nigeria. Udobi has the speed, skill and athletic ability to be a major offensive threat for the Owls. First year player Paul Kaplan (Embden, ME) will also step into the Owls starting lineup and has shown the physical presence, knowledge and skill during the preseason to join Chris Daly in the Owls back line. Freshman Ansumana Morrow (Presque Isle, ME) will also step into the Owls starting lineup at center midfield and joins Udobi and Kaplan as one of the strongest recruiting classes Coach Gordon has seen in many years. Morrow has the skill and ability with the ball to combine with Barbosa at the midfield to create numerous scoring chances for the Owls.
Also adding to the Owls strong 2017 recruiting class are freshmen Talieson Peck (Tenants Harbor, ME) , Jacob Worthley (Houlton, ME), Michael Brown (Easton, ME), Reed Farrar (Greene, ME), Chris King (East Millinocket, ME), Lucas Husser (Biddeford, ME), Gabe Hunnewell (Princeton, ME), Mitchell McDunnah (East Millinocket, ME), and Caleb Thompson from (Washburn, ME). All these first year players have the athletic ability to step into the Owls lineup and have an immediate impact on the success of the team. If the Owls can stay healthy and see the strong recruiting class adjust to the collegiate game quickly the 2017 season could be one of the most successful in many years.
The Owls will open the 2017 season on Saturday September 2nd at Vermont Tech.
For a complete schedule and to follow the Owls go to www.owls.umpi.edu.