Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor
A year after coming up short in the Little East Conference Finals, Rhode Island College’s men’s soccer team under the stewardship of John Mello is looking to return to the championship game and avenge their 1-0 loss. The team playing for RIC this season is going to look a bit different from the one that shared the Little East regular season championship a season ago with some key components from last year’s team having earned their bachelor’s degree and moved onto the next stage of their lives. Among these BA holders are last year’s Little East Defensive Player of the Year Ekunabe Seye and All New England forward Komla Dogbey who was described by Coach Mello as “one of the best forwards to ever play for RIC.”
RIC has a strong returning core of players which is highlighted by senior captain Dennis Vazques who earned an All New England Selection last season for his play at midfield. One of the players who will be working with Vazques in the midfield will be Ghana born Hope High School alumni Kossivi Dogbey, brother of Komala. Also returning is second year goalkeeper Charles Tashjian who is looking to build on a strong first season and rounds out the group of seven returning starters from the 2017 team.
Coach Mello highlighted freshmen forwards Brandon Ramos of Dorchester Massachusetts and Jonathan Olivera out of Classical High School as players to watch. Both are starters for the team with Ramos having scored in each of the team’s first two games.
RIC was ranked #3 in the Little East preseason rankings below Umass Boston at #2 and last year’s champions, Western Connecticut State University at #1. According to Coach Mello “the team is young and inexperienced and we have a lot of new players to work in but our expectation is always to win the Little East. Our conference is very tough but we want to improve each week.”
When asked about key home games on the schedule Coach Mello signaled out the September 29th contest against Keene State and the October 20th game against UMass Boston as high leverage games for the Anchormen.
The men’s soccer team’s season is already underway with the team holding a 1-1-1 record as of the writing of this article. The team’s next home game will come on September 15th when the Anchormen face off against the University of Southern Maine. When asked why RIC students should invest in the team this season Coach Mello said that “the team is successful, we have a good bunch of guys and we’re always fighting for a championship.”