Through December 21, Merrimack will recap the 2010 fall season.
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.- The Merrimack men's soccer team wrapped up the 2010 season with an 8-0-1 record on home soil. The Warriors have not suffered a loss at Warrior Field since October 17, 2009, stringing together 11 victories and a draw. This fall, Merrimack outscored opponents 23-6 in North Andover while earning four clean sheets.
The Warriors sported a 9-8-1 overall record and a 5-7-1 mark in Northeast-10 Conference action this season.
Robbie Sabadoz (Ottawa, Ontario) hauled in numerous postseason honors this fall. Sabadoz was tabbed to the NSCAA and Daktronics All-East Region first team as well as the Northeast-10 All-Conference first team. The junior striker ranked first in the league with 23 points on nine goals and five assists.
Junior midfielder Evan Burokas (Auburn, Mass.) was also honored on the Daktronics All-East Region, earning a spot on the second team. Burokas, who led Merrimack with nine assists and ranked second in the conference, was selected to the Northeast-10 All-Conference second team. Nicholas Lo Coco (Gloucester, Mass.), Olof Lindhe (Stockholm, Sweden) and Franklin Pena (Revere, Mass.) all earned their first-career Northeast-10 All-Conference accolades as all three were third team honorees.
Pena's eight goals and four assists were good for 20 points and second on the team. Lindhe tallied four goals and added two helpers while contributing to Merrimack's defense that allowed 1.69 goals-per game. Lo Coco was a captain of the Warriors and anchored the backline while finding the back of the net once.
In goal, senior Kevin Joyce (Mansfield, Mass.) started 14 games while owning a 1.31 goals against average and a 9-3-0 record. Freshman Mattias Drummond (Partille, Sweden) made four starts and seven appearances this season for the Warriors.
Merrimack captured six-straight wins to open the season and went 7-1-0 in September. The Warriors picked up wins over Post and Dominican as part of the Merrimack Warrior Invitational to kick off the 2010 campaign. A 5-3 road victory over Wilmington carried Merrimack into a three-match home stand. The Warriors downed C.W. Post 5-3 before earning shutouts over Saint Rose (4-0) and Stonehill (3-0) to run their record to 6-0-0 to start the year.
The Warriors endured their first loss of the season on the road at Franklin Pierce, a close 2-1 decision. This set the stage for one of Merrimack's highly-anticipated matches of the fall. The No. 14 Warriors hosted No. 2 Southern N.H. September 29 in front of packed stands at Warrior Field. Behind a tally by Sabadoz and key saves by Joyce, Merrimack knocked off the Penmen 1-0.
For the first time in 2010, the Warriors were held scoreless as they fell to American International 1-0 October 2. Merrimack was done in by an overtime dagger days later, dropping a 4-3 decision at Saint Anselm. The following contest was knotted at 1-1 after 90 minutes but a goal by Pena in the 96th minute gave the Blue and Gold its eighth win of the year.
In the final six games of the regular season, Merrimack went 1-5-1 with a home win over Assumption and a home tie with Saint Michael's on Senior Night.
The Warriors reached the Northeast-10 Conference playoffs for the seventh-consecutive year. Merrimack, the eighth-seed in the tournament, squared off against the top-seeded team in playoffs and the No. 1 squad in the nation, Franklin Pierce. After a 0-0 first half, Sabadoz put the Warriors ahead 1-0 in the 60th minute. The Ravens rallied in the final 30 minutes to score five unanswered goals and advance with a 5-1 victory.
"It was an up and down season that started off great but unfortunately did not end on a positive note. We had some great wins early, including wins over a number of top teams in the region and nationally ranked teams," stated head coach Tony Martone, who logged his 29th season on the Merrimack sideline.
"The second half of the season was very frustrating, as we continued to play well and dominate games but we just could not get the results. Going forward, I am very excited about next year as we are only graduating three seniors and the bulk of the team will be back."
Martone's squad was also recognized for their excellence in the classroom. The Warriors were one of 196 men's soccer teams to earn the NSCAA Team Academic Award for the 2009-10 academic year. Merrimack posted a team GPA of 3.27, the highest in Martone's tenure.
Three seniors departed the program at the end of the season. Adam Leone (East Northport, N.Y.), Ben Paradis (Tiverton, R.I.) and Joyce helped lead the Warriors to the Northeast-10 Conference playoffs in each of their four years. Leone buried two markers and earned three assists in his senior season. Paradis scored one goal and picked up three helpers during his fourth year.
Despite losing three seniors, Merrimack will return 22 players from the 2010 squad next year. Sabadoz, LoCoco and Victor Plaza (Jundiai, Brazil) will serve as captains in 2011.