Junior goalkeeper Adam Colella returns in the Skyhawks net. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)
BY Jim Fenton
The Stonehill College men's and women's soccer teams will open their seasons by playing in the first Catholic Cup tournament.
The men's team is hosting the four-team tourney in Easton while the women will be traveling to Worcester.
Stonehill entertains Saint Anselm College at 2 p.m. Friday to begin the men's tourney with Assumption College facing Saint Michael's College at 4:30 p.m. The consolation and championship games are Saturday at noon and 2:30 p.m.
The Stonehill women will play Saint Anselm at 1 p.m. Friday with host Assumption taking on Saint Michael's at 4 p.m. The consolation and championship games are at noon and 3 p.m. Saturday.
The tournaments allow the four Northeast-10 Conference schools to fill two non-conference slots on their schedules while playing for a trophy. Each school will host the men's and women's tourneys over the next four years.
The idea for the Catholic Cup began with Stonehill men's coach Jim Reddish proposing a men's tourney, and the women's teams followed suit.
"Getting non-league games can be hard, and we have four slots to fill with non-league games,'' said Reddish. "You wind up making long trips or teams back out in the summer and you have to find another game.
"With this, we have four schools who are very similar, have been in the Northeast-10 a long time and our programs recruit the same players. We are hoping it becomes a tradition.''
Playing in a tourney with a trophy on the line will give the players some extra incentive on the first weekend of the season.
"The players are excited about it,'' said Reddish. "They like the idea. The coaches like it. It's a win-win. It's really a good way to start the year off.''
The Stonehill men went 5-11-1 (4-9 in the conference) last season and have just three seniors after playing numerous underclassmen.
"Last year, we had only four upperclassmen on the field at times, so we're hoping all that experience pays off,'' said Reddish, whose team will feature junior goalkeeper Adam Colella (1.27 goals against average), senior Kevin Gilmartin and sophomore Drew Montano (four goals).
The Stonehill women have a new coach in Alex (Eckhardt) Wilson, a former goalkeeper for the Skyhawks. Stonehill went 6-5-6 (5-5-5 in the NE-10) last season and returns top scorer Christine Moodie (six goals) and goalkeeper Amy Wheaton (0.65 GAA).