Last year, a senior-laden lineup helped the Queens University of Charlotte men’s soccer team to its first winning season in five years and its first NCAA tournament berth in six years.
The Royals will field a significantly younger lineup this season, but head coach Oliver Carias said the talent is there for another winning season.
“We have a young team … but we feel pretty good about who we have coming in,” said Carias, a former Queens player and assistant coach entering his third year as head coach. “We’ll be young, but we’ll be very talented, too.”
Queens finished 16-4 last season – the most wins by a Royals team since 2002 – en route to winning the South Atlantic Conference’s regular-season and tournament titles.
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Queens would be one of three SAC teams – with Anderson and Carson-Newman – to earn berths in the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Royals’ season ended with a second-round loss to Lander.
That Queens team had seven seniors, including All-SAC first-teamer Thiago Andrade, who led the team in goals (15) and assists (10).
Andrade is gone, as are five of the Royals’ top seven scorers from last season: seniors Felipe Netto (six goals, four assists), Yannick Fischbach (three goals, five assists) and Gersi Cilingiri (two goals, three assists) all graduated, while freshman Jonathan Onyeaka (four goals) transferred.
Queens’ leading returning scorers are junior forward Erick Suarez, a Myers Park High graduate who was second in both goals (12) and assists (eight) last season, and junior midfielder Ryan King (three goals, one assist).
The Royals have only three seniors in the lineup this season: midfielder Kevin Anderson (Mooresville), defender Gregorio Pestana and starting goalkeeper Montrell Morgan, an East Mecklenburg High grad who played at Coastal Carolina and Dayton before transferring to Queens in 2012.
The difference may come from the Royals’ newcomers: 12 freshmen and three transfer students.
Among the new players is sophomore forward Ryan Ejezie, a transfer from NAIA school Tennessee Wesleyan who was second in the Appalachian Athletic Conference in goals with 14 last season.
“Eight of those guys could start right away,” Carias said. “With the system we have and what the school can provide, we attracted a lot of quality players that were considering Division I schools. We were able to get some good, quality players to come join us.
“Every season really depends on how everybody comes in in shape, but I believe that we’ll be as talented as we were last year.”
New marketing, promotions director
The Queens Athletic Department has hired Stephanie Withey as director of marketing and promotions, school athletics officials announced Aug. 4.
Withey comes to Queens after serving as conference officer with Conference Carolinas, of which the Royals were a member until the 2013-14 athletic season.
“Stephanie’s experience at Clemson, High Point and the Conference Carolinas office, combined with her passion for athletics, brings a winning combination to Queens Athletics,” Queens Assistant Athletic Director Cherie Swarthout said in a prepared release.
With Conference Carolinas, Withey helped create Playmaker, the conference’s digital magazine, created news releases and handled marketing efforts for the annual basketball tournaments, and managed the conference’s social media accounts. She also worked with High Point University’s sports information department.
Before her work with Conference Carolinas, Withey was a graduate assistant in Clemson’s pre-collegiate programs office for nearly two years. She earned her master’s degree in parks, recreation and tourism management.
As a Clemson undergraduate, Withey worked in the school’s sports information department. She eventually received a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to grow and aid in the quality of athletics that Queens promotes,” Withey said in a prepared release. “From the staff to the facilities, Queens produces an amazing and supportive atmosphere. I am thrilled to begin my next chapter and excited to be a part of the Queens family.”