Chestnut Hill College men’s soccer team captains (from left) Chris Wilson, Mike Goldstein, Chris Moore, Gavin Reid. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

If you stopped by one of the first practices for the Chestnut Hill College men’s soccer team last week, you might have come away with the impression that the school was planning to field both a varsity and a full junior varsity team.

The Griffins suffered few graduation losses from their 2010 squad, and have added no fewer than 14 incoming freshman recruits. Penn Charter alum Keith Cappo is back for his second season as CHC’s head coach, and his staff now includes Jonathan Rhodes, who has coached club soccer with the Penn Fusion and coached women’s soccer at Gwynedd Mercy College, as well as serving as a soccer academy instructor in England. The second assistant coach is Alex Culp, who finished up his playing career at Moravian College two years ago and was an assistant coach at Roman Catholic High School last fall.

“Both of them have really helped our recruiting,” Cappo pointed out. “We were able to go out and see a lot of kids and get them interested in Chestnut Hill. They met with us and saw the school. They liked the small class sizes and liked the location, and then the soccer just enhanced that.

“I believe that every one of the freshmen will have an impact on the program, to help us in our training or to step in and play for us in games pretty quickly,” the coach continued.

The new crop of Griffins features a number of Delaware Valley players, including several from the northern division of the Philadelphia Catholic League. Others have come from as far away as Florida and California. Cappo said he is currently talking to high school prospects from Louisiana and Colorado, and explained “We’ll always be looking for strong players from this area, but to really bring up the program we want to broaden the search, as well.”

Back for the Griffins are three of the top five goal scorers from 2010: senior Gavin Reid, junior Darryl Richardson, and sophomore Bobby Stocklin. Junior goalie Mike Goldstein recorded five shutouts in 2010, and finished second in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference in total saves (107).

Reid, originally from Scotland, is a team quad-captain along with Goldstein, senior defender Chris Moore, and sophomore midfielder Chris Wilson.

“We brought in some very good attacking players, and we have a lot of experienced guys in the midfield.” Cappo said. “I think we’ll be pretty versatile. We should be able to defend patiently and look for opportunities to attack.”

The coach hopes that those qualities will help CHC, a relatively recent arrival in NCAA Division II, forge into winning territory this fall. The Griffins were just under .500 last season, winding up 5-6 in the CACC and 9-10 overall. Chestnut Hill was ranked seventh in the pre-season poll for the conference, where one of the top teams, New Jersey’s Bloomfield College, has already received votes in the national NCAA Division II poll.

Among CHC’s non-conference opponents are Pennsylvania schools such as West Chester, Bloomsburg, California/PA, and Pitt-Johnstown. The Griffins will also take on Mercy College and St. Thomas Aquinas of the East Coast Conference.