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College Crosse 2017 Dissections: #69 VMI Keydets

Will the Keydets see any improvement from the past three seasons?

Brice York

As the offseason continues, we’ll take a look back at the 2017 season for each individual team in our 2017 dissections. The individual team dissections will go in reverse order of my final Power Rankings from the end of the season. If you missed any of our team or conference recaps, you can check them out here.

Our next team up are the VMI Keydets!

VMI Keydets

Conference: Southern
2017 Record: 2-12 (0-7 in SoCon play)
Head coach: Jon Birsner (2nd Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Wesley Sanders (17)
Assists: John Daniel (20)
Points: John Daniel (34)
Face-offs: Tristan Capes-Davis (78-of-189; 41.3%)
Ground balls: Kyle Walsh (44)
Caused turnovers: Kyle Walsh (22)
Goals against average: Joe Riccadonna (13.62 GAA)
Save percentage: Joe Riccadonna (49.1%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: Brad Nardella (16G, 2A), Nick Dodd (8G, 11A, 32GBs), Chris Spada (14G, 8A), Dale Mattice (9G, 6A)
Senior scoring departing: 74 of 175 (42.3%)
Senior starts lost: 42 of 140 (30%)

Season Summary

VMI’s two wins in 2016 were against the NJIT Highlanders and the Hampton Pirates. VMI’s two wins in 2017 were also against NJIT and Hampton. It hasn’t been a good run by the Keydets in many years, and a change in record is long overdue.

Dating back to the turn of the century, the Keydets went over .500 once in 2000 when they went 7-6. The last time they reached .500 was in 2006 when they went 7-7. They haven’t had more than five wins since the 2008 season, when the team went 6-10. And since moving to the Atlantic Sun/Southern Conference, VMI has recorded only one win, which came against the Richmond Spiders back in 2015 under the A-Sun name.

VMI’s struggles are obvious, but the Keydets are expected to return their top two scorers in sophomore John Daniel and senior Wesley Sanders, both attackmen. But their next five top scorers have graduated, and there’s a nine-point gap between Hunter Duford, who transferred to Belmont Abbey this summer, and sophomore attackman Jonathan Durham. Duford recorded 13 points last year, while Durham put up just four points.

The Keydets are in need of everything, and Jon Birsner has another big task ahead of himself. Depth scoring is a big need, but defense is also up on that list. Kyle Walsh should return after leading the team in ground balls and caused turnovers last season while starting all 13 games he played in. Goalie Joe Riccadonna needs to lower his goals against average as much as possible in order for VMI to try and compete for a SoCon Tournament spot. And it’s possible, just look at the Jacksonville Dolphins.

The team recently promoted offensive coordinator James Pupura to recruiting coordinator and hired former Marist Red Foxes goaltender Dave Scarcello to be their defensive coordinator.

What’s Ahead?

Last year, Sanders was a first team All-Southern Conference selection, while Daniel made the conference’s All-Freshman team. The offense has some talent to hang in games, but relying on just two guys won’t be enough. Durham, midfielders Luke Davies and Austin Henry will need to pick up a considerable load and then some in order for the Keydets to stay in games through the SoCon season.

The defensive unit of Walsh, John O’Donnell, and John Schmank should all be back to protect Riccadonna in net. Altogether, VMI is expected to return 29 of 34 players from last year’s roster.

Below are who the Keydets will be adding next year.*

St. John’s Unofficial Class of 2017

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Keenan Brownlow Defense/LSM Inglemoor (WA)
Gavin Catalano Goalie Pittsford (NY)
Oscar Cranz LSM/Defense Charlotte Country Day (NC)
Joseph Fitzpatrick FOGO Wantagh (NY)
Jonathan Huber Attack St. Anthony's (NY)
Mackenzie Iacocca Midfield Bishop Macdonell (ONT)
Anthony Lucia Defense Rocky Point (NY)
Austin Reda Midfield Huntington (NY)
Christian Rega Attack Chaminade (NY)
Stephen Sammartino Defense Chaminade (NY)
Rob Ziegler Defense Sayville (NY)

*Compiled amongst numerous sites with players listed as VMI commits. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.


How many wins will St. John’s get in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    (9 votes)
  • 60%
    (45 votes)
  • 14%
    (11 votes)
  • 13%
    (10 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now