VMI Men’s Soccer Preview: Keydets go young in rebuild

vmiVMI men’s soccer has lost 33 of its last 35 matches, with two ties, both in 2017. A youth movement is the theme of 2018 under third-year coach Michael Bonelli, whose roster features 14 freshmen competing for time on the pitch.

Bonelli came to VMI from St. Mary’s University (San Antonio, Texas), where he spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons logging 16 victories, one of the best two-year spans in program history.

With a reputation as a solid recruiter, Bonelli has put miles on his car tracking down the players who will serve as the foundation of his program rebuild.

“We identified a number of needs for this fall, and I know our 2018 class is going to fill these needs,” Bonelli said. “We have taken great strides as a program over the last year, and we are looking forward to making an impact in the fall. Our 2018 recruiting class, combined with our highly motivated returning players, is going to give us the talent, drive, and work rate to elevate the level of our program this fall.”

The Keydets started the 2017 season with some promise, earning a pair of draws in its first four matches, but the run through the SoCon was a bit tougher, with VMI losing all 10 of its conference matches.

The 2018 team returns one of last season’s leading scorers, sophomore defender Willson Tuck (Virginia Beach, Va.), and sophomore defender Benjamin Skibicki (Springfield, Va.) led the team in minutes played as a freshman, one of three Keydets to log more than 1,000 minutes who return.

The keeper will be one of three incoming freshmen – Broden Schull (Portland, Ore.), Jared Nenno (La Plata, Md.) or Colby Swanson (Virginia Beach, Va.).

VMI opens its 2018 season at home on Friday, Aug. 24, with a match against Longwood.

Story by Chris Graham

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