Change is in the air for the Manhattan College men’s soccer program.
With a newly refurbished home field at Gaelic Park, an overhauled roster, and a renewed sense of optimism, the Jaspers are looking to put last season’s two-win campaign behind them as they vie for a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship.
Oh, and a moratorium on major injuries would certainly help the cause, too.
“Coming out of preseason last year, we had a lot of guys who were hurt, and not with small injuries,” Manhattan head coach Jorden Scott said. “We had a lot of major injuries, and it really affected the plan we had set up. We got a little bit better at the back end of the season, but we were really disappointed in the season.”
The Jaspers finished 2-12-3 including a 2-6-2 mark in the MAAC. So to remedy the ills of last season, Scott and his coaching staff hit the recruiting road hard, transforming the Jaspers’ roster with a dozen new faces.
“I think we’ve covered every position, which is really refreshing,” Scott said. “Everybody had come back happy and excited for this season, and we have the new field that was put down in Gaelic Park, so it’s just a really exciting time. We’re really looking forward to this season.”
Scott is particularly high on a pair of European imports who should give the Jaspers a little international flavor this season.
“We have one kid coming in (from France) named Yann Mvita,” Scott said. “He’s got a lot of experience and he’s a great athlete. We also brought in a kid named Brandon Joseph-Buadi from England. Brandon actually played at the highest level in England, so we’re hoping for big things from him.”
But Scott didn’t spend all his recruiting time across the pond. He also took a trip to Florida and came home with one of the top-scoring players in Division II when he got Lucas DaSilva from Palm Beach Atlantic University.
But it’s the return of one player from injuries last year that has Scott even more excited.
“Noah Amissah came in and wound up having to sit the whole season last year because of a cyst on his knee,” the coach said. “But now he’s 100 percent healthy, and we’re excited about what he can contribute to us. It’s an exciting time, a real exciting time.”
One decision still looming for Scott is who will stand in front of the net. The Jaspers return a pair of veterans, but Scott said he’s also intrigued by his freshman goalie who was the backbone of Fordham Prep’s city championship team last season.
“We brought in a local kid from Yonkers who we really have high hopes for in Michael Kennedy,” Scott said. Kennedy posted 13 shutouts, earned All-City and All-League honors, and was named team MVP of the 19-1 Rams last season.
He’ll also return junior Connor Hayes and sophomore Moritz Eisold.
“They’ll have another year under them, and they’ll be ready to go,” Scott said. “We also brought in another kid from France in Jean-Baptiste Tamas-Leloup who played at the highest level in France, and we’re very excited about him, too.”
Yes, optimism abounds for Scott and his Jaspers, who will open their season Aug. 25 when Manhattan hosts Navy at Gaelic Park at 7 p.m. This season also will mark the 50th anniversary for the men’s soccer program at Manhattan.
“There just feels like there’s a rejuvenation here,” Scott said. “This year we just feel we have so much more depth. Everything is lined up, we just have to go out and perform, and we just need a little luck with injuries, and hopefully we’ll have a very competitive season.”