FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Junior goalkeeper Alex Fait (Ottawa, Ont.) played every minute in net for the Sacred Heart University men's soccer team a year ago. Fait spent his first collegiate season as the understudy to two-time All-Northeast Conference goalkeeper Matt Jones. In what seemed like a seamless transition, Fait finished third in the NEC with a 0.90 goals against average and .856 save percentage. He anchored the Pioneers to a 7-8-2 finish overall, while posting six shutouts. In conference play, SHU went 4-5-1 and finished in sixth place.
The Pioneers finished six points out of the final playoff spot last year, but remained in contention up until the final day of the season. Sacred Heart looks to start off strong with non-conference games on their home turf against Holy Cross, Columbia, and Siena, all in the first week of the season. The Pioneers open with Holy Cross under the lights at Campus Field against Holy Cross tonight at 7:30 pm.
Sophomore Marcello Castro (Parana, Brazil) is the top-returning goal scorer for SHU. In his rookie season, Castro notched three goals, while playing in the central midfield. This year he makes the move to center defense where head coach Joe Barroso hopes Castro's athleticism can fill the Pioneers' defensive needs.
Local products Lusiano Dadario (East Haven, Conn.) and Mario Mililli (Shelton, Conn.) will serve as the captains for coach Barroso's 2010 squad. Both players will see plenty of action in the Sacred Heart midfield. Mililli spent the 2009 season as a captain and made nine starts, while playing in 13 total games. Dadario appeared in all 17 games, made 11 starts, and collected a pair of assists on the season. With Castro's move to the backline, these two seniors will be looked upon not only as leaders, but as playmakers in the midfield.
In 17 games, the Pioneer offense struggled to find its rhythm throughout the 2009 season. As a whole, the team only managed to score 16 goals. Sacred Heart's offensive front will feature many young strikers as well as some returning veterans. Sophomore forwards Justin Brewer (Somers, Conn.) and Brian Francolini (Ellington, Conn.) each netted a pair of goals in his freshman campaign. Graduate student Patrick Daka (Chingola, Zambia) and senior Sergio Freitas (Edison, NJ) are also expected to be dynamic contributors to the SHU attack.
Sacred Heart begins conference play as it hosts Long Island at 6:00 pm on October 1. On October 10 the Pioneers visit Monmouth for a 1:00 pm kick-off. Last season SHU played the then #10 Hawks to a scoreless tie on Campus Field. SHU faces intrastate rivals Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut on the road on October 22 and October 24.