Bridgeport, Conn.-Hopes are high for the University of Bridgeport men's soccer team, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Peter Doneit, as the Purple Knights begin their 2019 season at the University of New Haven this Thursday evening, September 5 at 7:00 p.m.
UB is looking to build off a six-game unbeaten streak to close out the 2018 season, as the squad posted a 10-4-1 overall record and a 5-3-1 East Coast Conference mark which put the team just two points out of a conference championship tournament berth.
The Purple Knights return all eight of their top scorers from last year's team led by dynamic striker Leandro Avila (Sr., Panama City, Panama) and steady midfielder, classmate Nikolai Vadseth (Langevaag, Norway). Avila, who earned Third Team All-Conference honors in his debut season in the Park City, led Bridgeport with 20 points in 2018 netting eight goals with four assists, and three of his goals proved to be game-winning tallies. Vadseth also scored eight goals last season to tie for the team lead in that category and finished with 19 points, as he contributed three assists.
Sophomore midfielder Oscar Facey (Trangsund, Sweden) is back after a fine freshman season in which he scored five goals and tied for the team lead in assists with four to amass 14 points.
Classmate Tom Godden (Leeds, England) returns looking to continue his strong play that saw him reach double-digit points from the UB backline with 10 on four goals and two assists last year.
Second Team All-ECC selection, senior Lucas Santos (Sao Paulo, Brazil) along with classmate, scrappy Erlend Skagestad (Mjoendalen, Norway) will provide leadership and talent in Bridgeport's midfield. Santos had three goals and one assist for seven points last season, and Skagestad fell just shy of double figure scoring with nine points in 2018 on an even number of three goals and three assists.
On defense, graduate student Marlon Montanella (Cannes, France), a Third Team All-Conference pick in 2018, figures to anchor the Purple Knights' group of talented backs with his composure and intelligence.
Look for sophomore Jonas Schmelcher (Berlin, Germany), who played in all 15 matches as a freshman for UB last season, to help shut down the opposition's offense.
In goal, sophomore Carlos Tofern (Hamburg, Germany) returns after earning six wins with two clean sheets in 2018. Freshman Felipe Dias (Bridgeport, Conn.) and sophomore Marcus Carrington (Hamden, Conn.) will provide valuable depth in the net for Bridgeport this season.
Head coach Doneit has welcomed back a total of 19 student-athletes from last year who are part of this year's 26-person squad.
As a team, the Purple Knights will be looking to post back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in seven years in 2019.
This year's schedule is a 16-game regular season slate for UB featuring nine home matches and seven contests away from Knights Field. After opening the season at New Haven on Thursday and traveling to Franklin Pierce on Sunday, September 8, the Purple Knights will play their home opener Wednesday, September 11 when they host American International College at 6:00 p.m. That AIC tilt will mark the start of a three-match homestand for Bridgeport as Southern New Hampshire and Goldey-Beacom come to campus during the next week.
Along with those three home contests, UB will host the University of District of Columbia, New York Tech, Southern Connecticut State, Assumption, Mercy and Roberts Wesleyan this season.
The Purple Knights will open their 2019 East Coast Conference slate of games at St. Thomas Aquinas College on Saturday, September 21.
The complete 2019 University of Bridgeport men's soccer schedule can be found here.