By Paul O'Donnell
The Ocean City Barons have high hopes for 2006. The club's main goal will be a fourth straight winning season, and to make another run at the PDL Championship. Last year's team finished 12-3-1, and was derailed by the injury bug and the high powered offense of the Richmond Kickers Future in the PDL Eastern Conference Semifinal. The club will once again play at Carey Stadium in Ocean City, NJ, a place that they have never lost during the regular season. This year's team is deeper than in year's past and head coach Neil Holloway hopes that the added depth, some key returning players and another batch of young local talent, will help bring a championship to Ocean City. Barons' Media Relations Director Paul O'Donnell has his own take on the upcoming season, click below for a team preview for 2006. The Premier Development League's 2004 MVP Ruben Mingo, will be returning to the Barons for another run at the title. Mingo signed with the First Division Richmond Kickers after the Barons were knocked out of the PDL's Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2005. He finished the season that came to a close at the First Division championship game in Seattle, where the Kickers fell to the Sounders. Mingo rang up some impressive numbers again last year for the Barons and is looking forward to more of the same in 2006.
Of his experience with Richmond, (the Kickers have since dropped down to USL-2) Mingo offered this: "It was a great experience, but I would have liked to see more playing time on the pitch."
The Barons are also pleased to note that David Daigle has fully recovered from the injury he suffered on the opening weekend last season that had him on the sidelines for the remainder of the campaign. David is in fine form (and voice) and looking forward to the season getting underway. Another of the returning players that have been impressive in workouts this spring is Joe Banks who came out fit and ready to play.
Anchoring the Barons back line again this year will be the All-PDL central defender John Thompson and All-Conference pick Chris Williams, Tommy Greenawalt and Andy Tait. Barons GM and player/coach Neil Holloway is fully fit after his foot injury and in fine form, ready to bolster the midfield where he will be joined by Adam Sternberger, Rich Baker, Matt Maher and some talented new faces.
Leading the Barons attack up front will be Byron Carmichael and Mingo who have been a very productive strike force and will be attracting plenty of attention from the opponent's defenders again this season. Look for some of the new additions to make their mark on the attack.
There will be a number of talented new faces on the Ocean City roster to complement those returning veteran players that form the core of this team. Several of these players will be new to the team and will have a big part in the story of the 2006 season.
You'll want to be there to open the Barons 2006 season. The Barons are looking to take that next step this year on the road to the PDL National Title and the new additions may make that a reality this time around.
Mark your calendar. The Barons regular season kicks off on Saturday, May 13 @7:30 at Ocean City's Carey Stadium against the Williamsburg Legacy.
Be there, I know I will.
Yours in soccer,