Jim Reddish, '96 begins his eighth season as head coach at Stonehill this fall.
By Jim Fenton
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
The Skyhawks compiled 11 wins, their highest total since 1993, and hosted a Northeast-10 Conference tournament game for the first time since 1994.
EASTON – The Stonehill College men's soccer team put together some notable achievements last season.
The Skyhawks went 11-6-1 for their most victories since 1993, set a program record for wins in the Northeast-10 Conference by going 9-4-0 and hosted a postseason tournament game for the first time since 1994.
Stonehill will try to build on that success during the 2015 season that begins on Friday afternoon.
The Skyhawks will take part in the four-team Catholic Cup in Worcester, playing Saint Michael's College in the opener with the consolation and championship games on Saturday.
"Last year was obviously our best year in 20 years, so the expectations are higher, which is great,'' said coach Jim Reddish, now in his eighth season. "It's probably the most pressure these guys have had. We're not going to sneak up on anybody like we did last year.''
Stonehill, which finished fourth in the NE-10 last fall, is picked to place seventh in the coaches preseason poll.
The Skyhawks won six of their final seven regular-season games before losing to Assumption, 2-1, in the quarterfinal round of the NE-10 tourney.
"This is what I've been working for to build the program where the expectation is we're going to be in the mix every year,'' said Reddish, the conference coach of the year last season.
"We play in one of the best conferences in the country and we've got some talented players here that want to come to Stonehill and play a high level of soccer and get a great education in a small school education, and I want winning to be part of that tradition.''
The Skyhawks lost 10 seniors but only four starters and return midfielders Drew Montano, a senior who made the All-NE-10 second team and All-East Region third team, and sophomore Connor O'Brien, a member of the conference all-rookie team.
Montano was tied for sixth in the NE-10 with 19 points (seven goals, five assists).
Senior R.J. Aprile, who recorded ten points on three goals and four assists last season, was selected as one of Stonehill's two captains for 2015.
"He had a huge year for us,'' said Reddish. "I think he's one of the best players in the league and he'll be the catalyst for us. He just makes plays.''
O'Brien scored five goals to go with two assists in his debut season.
"He had a great freshman year,'' said Reddish.
"It's going to be forward-by-committee the first two weeks to see who can stay healthy and earn the role,'' said Reddish. "It's an interchangeable unit. We've got to see who steps ups and makes the plays.
"Attacking-wise, we'll still be fine. We've got some talented players who hopefully will put the ball in the net.''
Stonehill plays four non-conference road games to start the season before its home opener against Saint Rose on Sept. 15.
"I think we're more talented than last year,'' said Reddish, who has six freshmen. "We won eight one-goal games last year and there's no guarantee we're going to match that. We need the effort.''
Jim Fenton may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JFenton_ent.