Five Stories We Missed This Summer

While it would be convenient for pretty much every college publication if the news cycle stopped from the end of May to the end of August, we all know that is never the case. While the Center Field staff was busy working, interning, and generally trying to enjoy its summer, there was still plenty of activity in and around the Marist athletic department. Here are five stories we missed this summer.

Men’s Basketball Practically Gets a New Team

Back in late February, things looked promising for Marist men’s basketball. They were winners of six games in a row heading into the final week of the regular season and were poised for a bye in the MAAC Tournament. 

Let’s just say that things didn’t work out and leave it at that.

Even as athletic director Tim Murray gave head coach John Dunne a new contract, player after player entered the transfer portal. MAAC Rookie of the Year Jao Ituka departed for Wake Forest in the ACC and sophomore Ricardo Wright headed to Southern Methodist in the American. Experienced players like Matt Herasme, Raheim Sullivan, Samkelo Cele, Braden Bell, and Victor Enoh opted to use their remaining eligibility at other schools.

Sophomore Noah Harris and junior Javon Cooley are the only players who were featured consistently in last year’s squad that are back for the upcoming season. Harris will look to build on a freshman season that saw him appear in all 30 games, average six points per game, and shoot 35 percent from beyond the arc.

There are nine newcomers to the 2022-23 roster. Dunne went portaling for four players: Anthony Cooper (Caldwell University), Kam Farris (Robert Morris University), Stephane Ingo (Maine), and Patrick Garnder (St. Michael’s College). Cooper and Gardner both put up good numbers at Division II schools and will have to adjust to life at the Division I level, while Farris and Ingo could potentially start in the backcourt and frontcourt, respectively.

Dunne also adds five incoming freshmen with Isaiah Brickner, Jaden Daughtry, Matt McCool, Jah’likai King, and Trace Salton coming into the roster. While we don’t know who will earn significant playing time, Dunne has shown that he can identify talent at the high school level. His challenge has been retaining those players.

Men’s Soccer Shuffle

Transfer window or transfer portal? Men’s basketball isn’t the only team with a lot of new faces. The comings and goings into and out of the Marist men’s soccer roster are reminiscent of Manchester United, not the MAAC. Key contributors from last year’s MAAC-winning squad Stefan Copetti (Maryland) and Antek Sienkiel (St. John’s) transferred out to bigger schools with aspirations of playing professionally. Copetti led the team with nine goals last season, while Sienkiel earned second-team all-MAAC honors.

Matt Viggiano also lost fifth-year players Huib Achterkamp, Kyle Galloway, Justin Jaime, and Evan Mason to graduation but managed to secure goalie Sam Ilin and midfielder Skyler Conway for post-graduate years. While a lot of important pieces from the NCAA Tournament team are gone, Viggiano has brought in eight transfers and five freshmen to help stem the tide.

Among these newcomers, are two transfers from St. John’s (Jared Juleau and Danny Ramm), two Canadian players (freshman Damola Akanni and sophomore transfer from Virginia Commonwealth Andrea Nguionza), and two local recruits in goalie AJ Lucas from Beacon and midfielder Zach Rabadi from Hopewell Junction.

It won’t be easy for 13 new players to gel into the squad, but Viggiano’s team will still hope to contend for another MAAC title.

Men’s Soccer head coach Matt Viggiano will hope his team gels in time for MAAC play (from Marist Athletics)

New Assistant Coaches for Men’s and Women’s Hoops

While the only head coaching change of the summer was Lance Ratchford replacing Chris Tracz on the diamond, both Marist basketball teams have new assistant coaches.

Women’s basketball brought in Kiah Gillespie to replace former assistant coach Elyse Schlump, who departed to take the head job at her alma mater Concordia University in Michigan. Gillespie split her college career between Maryland and Florida State and was the 32nd pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. Gillespie went on to play in France before joining the Marist coaching staff.

Men’s hoops also went through a change in their coaching structure. Drew Metz, the team’s director of operations last season, will now be one of John Dunne’s assistant coaches. Metz spent one season in that role and will be replaced by Brandon Hall, who played under Dunne at St. Peter’s.

Metz replaces Serge Clement, who departed Dunne’s staff for an assistant coaching position at Hofstra.

Balcarcel goes International

Marist men’s lacrosse rising senior Joshua Balcarcel will be able to say that he had a cooler summer than pretty much everyone else on campus. Earlier in August, the attackman represented the under-21 Puerto Rico team at the World Lacrosse Championships in Dublin, Ireland.

Balcarcel impressed for Puerto Rico, compiling 25 points (17 goals and eight assists) over eight games. He led the team in points and was one goal away from the team-high mark. Balcarcel’s best overall performance came in a dominating 17-5 win over Germany, where he totaled two goals and three assists.

The Puerto Rican team finished 4-4 in the tournament with two of its losses coming by a single goal. Balcarcel played in all 15 of Marist’s games last season, finishing with seven goals and two assists. A successful international campaign could bode well for Keegan Wilkinson’s squad as Balcarcel seems primed for a bigger role in the spring.

Other Sports Also Stung by Transfer Portal

While no team at Marist had it worse with transfer losses than men’s basketball, women’s hoops, baseball, and men’s lacrosse also lost players in the portal.

In his final offseason, Brian Giorgis lost key contributors Sarah Barcello, Trinasia Kennedy, and Anabel Ellison to San Diego State, George Mason, and Stetson respectively. Emma Wax and Siobhan Boylan also entered the portal and opted for Division II schools. Giorgis does bring in a promising recruiting class, and while the school hasn’t announced it yet, 6-foot-5 center Maeve Donnelly announced her commitment via Instagram.

Marist baseball pitcher Erubiel Candelario put his name in the transfer portal at the end of May and announced his commitment to Pittsburgh via Twitter on August 13. He posted an 8-3 record with a 4.24 ERA and struck out 88 batters over 76.1 innings. Candelario graduated in the spring and will have two additional years of eligibility at Pitt.

Marist men’s lacrosse also lost a key player to the ACC with the departure of long stick midfielder JT Roselle, first reported by Lacrosse Bucket. Roselle contributed six goals and three assists this season and forced 30 turnovers on his way to a first-team All-MAAC campaign. He will look to compete for playing time with the North Carolina Tar Heels, who finished 8-6 but missed the NCAA Tournament last season.

The departures of Barcello, Candelario, and Roselle show that successful careers at Marist can lead to opportunities at high-major Division I schools.

Edited by Andrew Hard

Header Photo from Marist Athletics

Author: Jonathan Kinane

I'm a senior from Syracuse, NY, studying sports communication and journalism. I consider myself a die-hard Syracuse University sports fan, but I also follow the Knicks, Giants, and Yankees in the professional ranks. Sports and writing have long been my passions and I am excited for another year with Center Field.

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