Men's Soccer Begins 2018 Season On Friday
NEW YORK – The 2018 campaign for the Columbia men's soccer team begins Friday at Kentucky, before the Lions battle No. 9 Butler on Labor Day. The Wildcats and the Lions can be seen at 7:00 p.m. Friday on SEC Network +, while Columbia and Butler will be broadcast Monday at 1:00 p.m. on Facebook Live. LAST YEAR Columbia has high hopes going into the 2018 season after a trip to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Lions returned to the NCAAs for the first time since 1993, earning a 2-1 win in double overtime at William & Mary during the first round of the tournament. A bevy of talent returns from the 2017 squad, including All-Region honorees Dylan Castanheira and Vana Markarian. Castanheira played every minute in goal for Columbia last year, posting 11 shutouts in 18 matches, as he is now just four shutouts away from breaking Gary Escher's program standard of 23. Markarian split time as a midfielder and a defender in 2017, scoring a game-winner against Fordham, who advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. Also returning from a squad that finished second in the Ivy League and 12-3-3 overall are All-Ivy League picks John Dennis (Jr., M), Danny Laranetto (Jr., M), and Blake Willis (So., D). CAPTAINS A pair of scoring threats in seniors Francisco Agrest and Kynan Rocks were named captains for the 2018 season. Agrest, a Riverside, Connecticut, native has five goals and seven assists over the past two seasons on the wing. Rocks, a native of Ireland, battled an early-season injury last year, but helped Columbia move on in the NCAA Tournament with a game-winner at William & Mary. TOP DRAWER TOP-100 When TopDrawerSoccer released its NCAA and conference player rankings prior to the 2018 season, junior Vana Markarian came in as the No. 81 ranked player in the country. In the top-20 Ivy League player rankings, Markarian was third and joined by Denis (No. 6), Willis (No. 11), and Laranetto (No. 14). IVY PRESEASON POLL The Ivy League preseason media poll was released on Wednesday, Aug. 29, with returning champion Dartmouth holding the top spot. The Big Green collected 11 of 16 first place votes, with the Lions, who held down the No. 2 spot, taking the other five first place votes. Brown finished third in the poll, followed by Princeton, Penn, Yale, Cornell, and Harvard. Dartmouth has won at least a share of the Ivy League title the past four seasons but will have a few hurdles to climb this fall. Along with replacing Wyatt Omsberg, a first round pick in the MLS SuperDraft, head coach Chad Riley departed to take over at Notre Dame. To replace Riley, Dartmouth hired former East Tennessee coach Bo Oshoniyi, who was formerly collegiate teammates with Columbia head coach Kevin Anderson and associate head coach Ken Pollard at Southern Connecticut State. All eight Ivy League teams get their seasons under way Friday, and seven of the eight play a pair of games over Labor Day Weekend. ABOUT KENTUCKY The Wildcats opened the year with a 1-0 win over DePaul, thanks in part to a Kalil Elmedkhar score in the first half, and a clean sheet from Enrique Facusse that featured a pair of saves. The match kept the officiating crew active, as one DePaul player collected two yellow cards among the six total that were passed out. Kentucky had a down year by its own standard in 2017, going 8-6-4, and not posting double-digit victories for the first time since 2013. In net, Facusse was tremendous during his rookie season, posting a 0.89 goals against average and earning Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors. ABOUT BUTLER Butler entered 2018 with high hopes, reaching the third round of the NCAA Tournament last year before falling to No. 1 Wake Forest a round after the Demon Deacons topped Columbia. The Bulldogs were ranked as high as No. 8 in the polls this year, when they opened up at No. 4 Akron on Aug. 24. Butler got on the board first with a free kick goal in the 12th minute by Louie Bulger, before the Zips went into the half with a 2-1 lead. In the second half, junior Brandon Gulh tied things up, as that would be all the scoring with the game ending 2-2. Three days later in their home opener against Drake, Butler went into the half up 1-0 from a Eric Hollenkamp goal in the first. Drake however would finish strong in the battle of the Bulldogs, as the visiting team netted a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes to take down No. 9 Butler, 2-1. Prior to the match with the Lions, Butler hits the road to take on Western Michigan on Thursday, Aug. 30.