Men’s Soccer looks to build off 2018

Emmanuel Rodriguez, Sports Editor

After serving as the interim coach of the SUNY Buffalo State Men’s Soccer team last season, Francesco Cardillo was appointed to the position permanently over the offseason. 

The former Bengal student-athlete wants to continue to build off last season’s 11-5-2 record, including the 5-3-1 record in SUNYAC play. The Bengals qualified for the SUNYAC playoffs for the fourth-straight season but were trounced by the Oneonta Red Dragons in the quarterfinals, 4-0. 

Without hesitation, Cardillo said he expects this team to be better than last year’s. 

“Even though we had a great season last year, I think with the new additions and another year for myself into my second season and kind of instilling what I believe will help us be successful and improve on last year’s record,” said Cardillo. 

Cardillo’s squad will feature numerous new faces. 

“We’ve added a lot of guys to the team. We have seven new players,” said Cardillo, “I think the biggest thing is the attitude of the guys coming in and how focused they are and the work they put in in the off season. Entering last season, at the start, it was good, but it wasn’t good enough. I think we’ve learned from that coming into the start of this season.” 

There are many returning players to the Bengals, including goalkeeper Andreas Queen, right-back Colin O’Keefe, midfielders Nemanja Simic and Saleman Salim and forwards Ali Shawish and Theo Pencic. 

“Well, now with another year under their belt, more experience and getting older, bringing in maturity to the guys and creating the overall cohesiveness with the group and understand that what we do, that’s how we do things,” Cardillo said. “I expect that from them in the sense of off-the-field, but on-the-field as well.” 

Captaining the Bengals for the 2019 season will be Shawish and Queen. 

“I expect the work ethic on the field from Shawish to be very high. I want him and (Saleman) Salim to make sure the guys are keeping the work ethic high,” said Cardillo. 

A bright spot for the Bengals last season was the outstanding freshman year Pencic had. The Norwegian forward had 11 goals and one assist in his 13 games played, all of which were starts. Pencic was awarded the 2018 SUNYAC Rookie of the Year and was named to the All-SUNYAC first team. 

“Given the position he plays, I am expecting (Pencic’s) goal tally from last season to continue to go up,” said Cardillo. 

The Bengals will have to do without their captains from last season in August Finn and Robert Willamson, who graduated in May. 

“I think with the guys we spoke about, Shawish, Salim, with another year under their belts, I think they take the role of the guys we lost,” mentioned Cardillo. “Drew Braun is returning to the program and brings loads of experience. Having him on the back line again is going to bring that presence that (Williamson) brought.”

Braun isn’t the only player returning to the Bengals this year. 

St. Bonaventure transfer Josh Beshaw returns to the Bengals roster this season after battling another injury. The senior forward has suffered through two ACL injuries and a meniscus injury since his collegiate career began. 

“He’s better than ever right now. He’s fitter than he’s ever been, he’s quicker than he’s ever been,” said Cardillo 

When it comes to working on a team motto, Cardillo is unsure if they have one, but Cardillo’s philosophy of organization and a work ethic is something he is passionate about. 

“Hard-working and blue collar is who we are,” said Cardillo.