DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire men's soccer team will kick off the 2005 season by hosting the 16th annual NIKE Fall Soccer Classic at Bremner Field. The Wildcats will face Iona College on Friday, Sept. 2, at 4:00 p.m. and Quinnipiac University on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. Vermont, the fourth team participating in the tournament, will face Quinnipiac on Friday at 1:30 p.m. and Iona on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
The Wildcats bring back 14 letterwinners, including eight starters, from the 2004 squad, led by All-Conference and All-New England performer Eric Masi (York, Maine). Junior Brian Levey (Pittsburgh, Pa.) returns as the UNH starting goalkeeper after tying the school single-season record with six shutouts in 2004. Levey will have plenty of defensive help thanks to returning juniors Matt Shump (Durham, N.H.) and Pedro Braz (East Providence, R.I.) as well as redshirt sophomore John Bergqvist (Hollviken, Sweden).
The University of Vermont, coming off a 9-5-5 season in 2004, won its first Classic title in 11 appearances last season and looks to become the first school outside of UNH to win back-to-back championships. Corey Bronner, last year's Classic MVP, returns for the Catamounts along with senior captains Jesse Brady-Searby, Matt Chew, and Jason Leahy.
Making their third appearance in the history of the tournament, the Iona Gaels come off a 6-12 season, but earned some momentum heading into the 2005 season after finishing the 2004 campaign with convincing 4-0 wins at Manhattan and St. Peter's. The Gaels return 17 letterwinners, including 2004 leading scorer Paul Racines, who notched five goals and eight assists.
The Quinnipiac Bobcats will appear in the tournament for the second time, having previously split two matches in 1999. The Bobcats' top three scorers return in 2005, including senior Jadir Barbosa, who led the team with seven goals. Junior Francis Mavula earned four goals and three assists in 2004, while senior midfielder Lassana Camara added three goals and three assists.
After this weekend's tournament, the Wildcats will not play another home match until Wednesday, Sept. 21, when they host Massachusetts at Bremner Field beginning at 4 p.m.