BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo men's soccer team will have depth to spare coming into the 2012 season, with eight newcomers joining a team that welcomes back nine starters and 15 letter winners from last year's squad. Bringing in depth at nearly every position, interim head coach David Hesch is optimistic that the new members of the team will have a chance to excel right away.
"I think all of these guys will contribute for us this season. I didn't bring in one guy who I didn't think could at least compete for a starting position," Hesch said. "That was the bar I wanted to set for these new guys and they are absolutely rising to that challenge."
Ainscough hails from Lancashire, England and will see time in the midfield. A 5-10 freshman, Ainscough already possesses a field vision that impresses coach Hesch.
"Ricky will be a great player for us this year and in the future. He has great work ethic and a great sense of the field," Hesch said. "He's going to be a nice field general playing out of the middle."
Albert is a junior college transfer who comes to UB from Cosumnes River College, where he was the team's leading goal scorer and was named the offensive MVP last seasib. A Sacramento, CA native, Albert redshirted in his freshman season at California Riverside after a successful prep career at West Campus High School. In high school, Marek played volleyball and basketball along with soccer, and was a three-time All League member.
"Marek is probably the best athlete to have ever come to our program, Hesch said. "He has size, he has speed, and he's very creative in the final third, so we expect him to score some goals for us this season."
Another player who will see time on the attack will be freshman Marcus Hanson. A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Hanson played club soccer for FC Toronto and also led his high school team to a 15-3 record in his senior season thanks in part to his 12 goals. He also played basketball in high school and was named his school's athlete of the year as a senior.
"He has a great pedigree coming out of Toronto and playing club ball at FC Toronto, Hesch said. "He has a great left foot and terrific size, so we're looking for him to excel right away."
Moving back to the defense, the Bulls have a pair of freshman who have a chance to earn starter's minutes. The first is Jake Jacobs, a freshman center back from Hampshire, England, Jacobs already possesses the size needed to hang on the back line of what should be a solid defense for UB. Jacobs played on two occasions for Elite FC England in the Gothia Cup (world's largest youth football tournament, also known as The Youth World Cup), leading England to the semi-final round in 2011 as the team's captain. Also in his time playing club soccer, he went on trial with English Premier League member Tottenham Hotspur, training with both the first and youth teams.
"We're looking for him to possibly start for us this season, we have an opening at center back and he has great vision, he's hard on the tackle and he has everything that opposing MAC team's starting center back has," Hesch said.
Also expected to push for a starting position is Shane Satar, an outside back who comes to Buffalo from Pickering, Ontario. Also a member of FC Toronto with Hanson, Satar served as captain for three seasons at St. Mary CSS and helped the team to a 18-1-0 record as a senior. His squad won the Tiger Bowl Championship title and also earned them a OFSAA Silver Medal.
"He's an absolute gem," Hesch said about Satar. "He'll be playing outside back for us, and he has a great work ethic and attitude. He's hard on the tackle, he is tactically sound, and Shane has everything you need to be a great Division I soccer player."
Steve Mounnarat joined the team early after finishing up his career at Monroe Community College. A two-year starter for the Tribunes, the Penfield, NY native was selected to the all-conference team this past fall. A three-year starter at Penfield High School, he was selected to the 2009 All-Greater Rochester team and a two-year starter on the USSF/Empire United Soccer Academy's U-18 team.
"We want Steve to fill some time either at outside back or outside midfield," Hesch said. "He has a nice sense of the game and he has all the qualities that we are looking for in student-athletes here at Buffalo."
Austin Stephany is another flexible talent who will feature predominantly on defense for UB. A Watkins Glen native, he earned five letters and served as captain for two seasons at Watkins Glen for head coach Henry Ferguson. He led the team to a 14-3 record as a senior, scoring 10 goals and assisting on 14 others, and he leaves as the owner of the school record for career assists (66) and career points (156). Austin played club soccer for the Empire Revolution US Development Academy, Empire Academy Rochester, and the Rochester Jr. Rhinos.
Last but not least is freshman Braden Scales, who comes from just down the road in Lockport. Scales played at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and led the team to Monsignor Martin League Playoff championships in 2009 and 2011. Scales suffered a knee injury recently and will be forced to redshirt and miss all of the 2012 season, but Hesch is excited to get him on the field in 2013.
"He will be redshirting because of his injury, but I know he has the work ethic and technical ability to come back and become a great soccer player for us," Hesch said.
The newcomers will have their first opportunity to get into the action tonight, when the team opens up with an exhibition match against rival Niagara on the road. The game is slated to begin at 7 pm.