The North­eastern men’s soccer team looks to get their season started on a high note as they travel to Prov­i­dence Col­lege tomorrow to open the 2011 reg­ular season.

After two pre­season shutouts, North­eastern is eager to con­tinue its strong defen­sive play against its Big East foe.

Fol­lowing their standoff against Prov­i­dence, which begins at 1 p.m., the Huskies return to action on Thursday, Sept. 1, for their home opener at Par­sons Field against the Marist Red Foxes. Kick-​​off for that con­test is sched­uled for 6 p.m.

North­eastern comes into the 2011 season hungry to improve on last year’s record in what is head coach Brian Ainscough’s sev­enth year at the helm. After back-​​to-​​back CAA tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game appear­ances in 2008 and 2009, the Huskies will be eager to reclaim their spot among the CAA’s elite in 2011.

Led by tri-​​captains Ryan Burnham, Jeremy Klein and Andre Cil­iotta, North­eastern returns a strong mid­field core and a skilled group of for­wards this season, in addi­tion to bringing in what looks to be an influ­en­tial group of seven freshmen and trans­fers. Despite losing eight letter win­ners, including tri-​​captains San­tiago Bedoya, Matt San­ford and Brendan Ennis to grad­u­a­tion, the Huskies are sure to be one of the more expe­ri­enced teams in the CAA.

We’re not going to be a young team. We think we are going to be very sea­soned from the goal­tender out,” said Ain­scough. “The com­pe­ti­tion for playing time and spots is going to be the strongest it’s been in my time here.”

Senior for­ward Mike Kennedy, an All-​​CAA second team selec­tion last season, will anchor the Huskies offense, Joining him on offense will be sopho­more Ricardo McDonald—who got off to a torrid start with four goals in 11 games last season before being side­lined by injury—and Don Anding, the CAA Rookie of the Year in 2009.

In the mid­field, the Huskies return Andre Cil­iotta, Dante Marini, Lau­rence Braude, Hamadi Can­tave, AJ Stueck and Eric Dyer. Now a cap­tain, Cil­iotta will be looking to reclaim his role as a key play­maker on this team after spending por­tions of the 2010 season coming off the bench.

The Huskies defense starts this season in the middle of a tran­si­tion, as the back line suf­fered the most turnover from last season. How­ever, the team has an expe­ri­enced defen­sive core and will rely heavily on Jeremy Klein, Ryan Burnham and Nikko Lara. Coach Ain­scough also brings back Conner Alexander and Top Phataraprasit.

In the penalty area for the Huskies in 2011, Oliver Blum will look to retain his status as first-​​choice keeper. The hard-​​working junior will be chal­lenged for time between the sticks by class­mate Michael Gal­lagher and red­shirt freshman Jacob Aduama.

We’re excited about this coming season,” Ain­scough said. “Last year a lot of first year players gained valu­able expe­ri­ence, and we think that expe­ri­ence will be very useful this season.”

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