Brett, RMU men’s soccer prepped for NEC run

Zach Laufer , Staff Reporter

In the Northeast Conference men’s soccer preseason coaches’ poll, the Robert Morris Colonials were picked to finish sixth out of eight clubs. But neither the players nor their coach are even thinking about it.

Finishing with a record of 8-8-2 in 2013 was a huge turnaround for RMU, considering the Colonials mustered only nine wins in the 2011 and 2012 seasons combined. However, head coach Bill Denniston viewed their .500 season a little differently.

“We were disappointed last year, desperately disappointed,” said Denniston, who is entering his 18th season at Robert Morris. “We gave up five goals in conference that were criminal and the fact that we didn’t make the tournament was unbelievable.”

All of RMU’s weapons are primed and ready to take the NEC by storm in 2014. Robert Morris led the conference in points, goals and assists last season, and its leading scorer, Neco Brett, is back and looking to build on a breakout campaign from last year.

We’re going to win it all this year.”

— Bill Denniston, head coach

Brett led the NCAA in points, finished second in goals, and came up just outside of the top 10 in assists. He also landed one point shy of the Robert Morris single season point record of 37 held by Major League Soccer draftee Musa Shannon.

“My expectation is to help lead my team, continue scoring goals, and also help to defend. Help out the younger guys, the four of us, because it won’t be an easy road,” said Brett. “Most of the guys from different teams coming to mark me, so it’s much harder. I’m here putting in the work. Hopefully I can do the job.”

With this potent offensive attack, Denniston believes his team can make an even bigger improvement this season, and made it very clear how high his expectations are.

“We’re going to win it all this year,” Denniston said. “We had four guys picked preseason All-[NEC] First Team and only ten get picked.”

RMU is welcoming seven freshman to the roster this year, including three from the Pittsburgh area.

Winter Fondi is a 5-foot-10 goalkeeper from Leetsdale, PA, who graduated from Quaker Valley High School after leading his team to the WPIAL playoffs in 2013. He will back up junior Brendan Alfery.

Corey McCurdy, a 5-foot-9 midfielder from Canonsburg, PA, played for Canon-McMillan during his high school career. McCurdy was selected to Pittsburgh’s 2013 All-Area Team after his senior season.

The last of the Pittsburgh natives is Zach Graziani, a 6-foot-1 defender from Imperial, PA, who played for West Allegheny the past four seasons. Graziani was a two-time all-state selection and was an NSCAA All-East Regional All-American in 2013.

The experienced players for the Colonials seem excited about this influx of young talent coming into the program.

“A lot of [the freshmen] are really good from Pittsburgh, we’re getting a lot of better,” said junior forward Bruce Cullen. “I think that it is a growing thing, especially with the Riverhounds too, that’s always a big booster.”

It seems like the only thing standing between the Colonials and an NEC championship is defending.

“All we’re working on right now is defense,” said Denniston. “We have Neco Brett, Bruce [Cullen], and [Carl Reid] outside, ridiculous speed, [Devon Williams] right behind them. Good luck stopping them.”