NoVA FC begins defense of M3 title as league kicks off season
NoVA FC will be back to defend its Major Arena Soccer 3 league championship this year as the league kicks off its 2022-23 season with three games this weekend.
The Winchester, Virginia, based team defeated the Fredericksburg Fire, who led by a goal at halftime of the title game, by a 12-7 final last spring.
Each team will play a 10-game regular season. Following is a capsule look at each team vying for this year's crown.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Baltimore Kings as they prepare to make their debut at Coppermine Du Burns Arena, their new home stadium for the Kings, an M3 affiliate of the Baltimore Blast of the Major Arena Soccer League, who called up several Kings players at various times during the 2021-22 MASL season.
The list of returning stars include the team's leading scorer in Henry Scott, who banged in 20 markers last season. Josh Danza returns with his big offensive numbers -- 31 points on 10 goals and 21 assists -- along with Ken Troung who was one of the Blast signees.
There is new blood to make the Kings a bigger threat - after posting a 4-6 record last year in giving up 104 goals while scoring 74 - including midfielder Gavin Boyer who was the U.S. League 1 Futsal MVP in 2021 and defender David Borrett who was a League 1 all star.
Fredericksburg Fire FC
The Fire were 30 minutes from a league title, after finishing the 2021-22 regular season with a 4-6 mark, but coming up big in the postseason with a semifinal win over Philadelphia to earn their spot in the title game.
Defense was a big calling card for the Fire last year as they allowed just 77 goals in 10 games. However, they will likely need to find a bit more offense in 2022-23 as they managed just 70 goals during the regular season last year.
One of those counted on for offense against will be Uriah Bentrick, one of the deadliest finishers of free kicks in the league, and the player who got the game winner in the Fire's big playoff win over the Spartans.
Also returning is local standout Nate Fogelsong, defender Eric Jennings, Gabe Beltram who joined the team just midway through last season and made an immediate impact, captain Henry Mordica and Lucas Mendes.
Keith Witherell will once again be a key offensively, as he bombed in 30 goals and added 12 assists to become one of M3's standout players in 2021-22.
The Fire will also welcome several newcomers, most notably Jonathan Romero, a current member of the national team in Guam and Francis Fournier.
The team will open on the road Saturday night against the Philadelphia Spartans in a 9 p.m. kickoff at XL Soccer World in Mt. Laurel.
The good news for NOVA fans is most the championship team returns in tact. And with the addition of several new players, they likely remain the team to beat in MASL 3 again this season, although there are plenty of worthy challengers. NOVA had the league's biggest goal differential last year at +63, scoring 131 goals and giving up just 63.
Among thenew faces are Bernardo Majano, who played for NOVA for six years. He attended Louisburg College, earning a trip to the NJCAA Final Four in his first year. Majano was called up to the El Salvador Under-20 National team where he participated in their first-ever qualification to a Youth World Cup then later participated in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup which was hosted in Turkey.
Professionally, he signed his first contract with first division side Santa Tecla FC from El Salvador where he was able to score eight goals his rookie season while appearing in three teams of the week honors. He won two league titles and one cup and participated internationally with his club reaching the CONCACAF Champions League that was played against MLS side Seattle Sounders.
Also new is Eber Martinez, a U.S. Youth National Team player and a member of the DC United Academy. He is a Hall of Fame inductee at Garfield Senior High School, where he is now the boys head coach, and played four years of college soccer at George Mason University.
This will be the first season of M3 play for the Marauders, who will also call Winchester, Virginia, their home. Most of the team is made up of younger and mix of veteran players who are part of the NoVA FC program.
Dave Allway will coach the new sqaud. He was an assistant coach on NoVA FC's championship team last season.
Chance Holland will be one of the players to watch on the attack, while defender Ephane Yao Yao is s skilled and attacking defender who should be a big contributor as well as Julius Haynes who is attacking midfielder/forward.
Carlos Vasquez was a longtime NoVA fixture, but hasn't played in several season. He'll be back at midfield for the Marauders, while Alex Kryazhev is another midfielder who will be expected to play a key role as well.