Despite its season getting postponed due to COVID-19, the Seton Hall men’s soccer team has continued training and practicing in anticipation of the tentative spring season.
Coach Andreas Lindberg said he feels the incoming group of freshmen and transfers can possibly play a key role during the upcoming season. Among these newcomers include freshmen defenders Mark Walier and Pierce Enxuto and junior transfer defender Maurice “Mo” Williams.
“Physically [Walier's] already ready, he’s one of the fittest guys on the team,” Lindberg said. “I think he's closer to getting playing time than we anticipated.”
A native of Holmdel, New Jersey, Walier captained his high school team for two years and led them to back-to-back NJ Group 2 State Championships in 2017 and 2018. He joins former high school teammate and sophomore defender Torre Avitabile as the squad’s second resident graduate of Holmdel High School.
Lindberg and his staff have also been impressed by the progress Enxuto is making during these early days of training.
“We really, really liked [Enxuto] when we recruited him,” Lindberg said. “He's come in here and we're very happy with him, super impressed with his attitude, his skill.”
Enxuto played at Simsbury High School in Connecticut for three years before transferring to the South Kent School, where he was part of a team that won multiple league championships.
Similar to Walier, Lindberg mentioned that Enxuto is closer to getting playing time earlier than anticipated. Though the extended offseason gives both defenders more time to get acclimated to the team and Lindberg’s style of play, it won’t be for a few more months until they have the opportunity to prove themselves in a competitive collegiate game.
Williams comes into the squad as the most likely to see first team minutes given his collegiate experience and the previous interest Seton Hall had in recruiting him while he was in high school.
“He’s an experienced player, a local guy. We knew him out of high school and weren't able to get him then,” Lindberg said. “[Williams] can compete right off the bat, in the defensive position as a center back. He’s somebody that comes in with experience, has another three years of eligibility so we’re excited about him.”
Williams—another New Jersey local—attended West Orange High School. He won the Super Essex Conference Player of the Year and earned a Soccer Coaches Association of New Jersey First Team All-State selection in 2017. Before transferring to Seton Hall, Williams played for the University of Cincinnati, starting 15 of his 16 games last season.
“We are very happy with all three of them really,” Lindberg said. “Especially with those younger guys, if we feel like we want to give them a little bit of playing time, if it's 10 to 15 minutes per game, typically they would lose a year of eligibility–that's not the case now.”
Lindberg said that while these new players showed well in their first few practices with the team, minutes as a starter or off the bench are not given easily at this level.
With sights set on making the Big East Tournament this year, the introduction of some fresh faces in Walier, Williams and Enxuto in the back line will hopefully provide the Pirates with the extra push they need to make a run in the tournament.
Thomas Cugno can be reached at email@example.com.