BDSL Manager Interview: Youngstown Marksmen
We head to the great north for the second interview of the year. This time we talked with Ben Hastings and Geoff Mencobello who lead Youngstown to the D3 semifinals last year. We talked about last year, how they are preparing for the 2017 season in D2 and their thoughts on traveling WNY for soccer.
BDSL: Welcome gents! Thanks for taking the time. Lets start by introducing yourselves and your roles with the Marksmen.
YTM: I'm Ben Hastings, I founded the marksmen last year and I'm the goalkeeper for the club. Geoff is basically the co-manager with me; we sort out everything as a unit. I try to focus on getting things done with money, jerseys, etc. while Geoff has a focus on player recruitment. Together we kind of control just about everything.
BDSL: Lets start off with last years D3 campaign overall I'd think you’d say it was a success despite falling in the playoffs. While you didn't make the final you still earned a promotion into D2. How would you rate the first season? What were the highs and lows of the year?
YTM: Overall, being our first season in the league we found it to be a great success. We started off really strong, even after dropping out of the Tehel cup before the season started. Beating Dutch in the season opener was really a positive shock for me with how solid their squad was. Our low point I would say was through July, where we did get results, however they were a little too close for comfort. Especially when we knew we wanted to gain great momentum for playoffs. I honestly can't see the playoff loss to Bosnia as a low for us, because we dictated a solid amount of the game. A loss in penalties doesn't define our season. We are fortunate to have still gone up a division, and I think we will take this fortune with a humble attitude with hopes of another successful summer.
BDSL: Coming into this season with the jump into D2 will it mean a fair amount of changes for your side? Whether that is playing style or players? Or do you believe that what worked for your team in D3 will continue up a ladder rung?
YTM: We've made more defensive acquisitions and our good friend Jake Braun is back from a torn ACL. From the players we've acquired and dropped, I would guess our style of play will be similar to last year. However I see us having an even stronger defensive line with a more diverse attacking threat. I feel we've improved the roster, which was already a solid one from last year. We've also raised the average age of our team a bit, which I believe can help us in the critical games of the season.
BDSL: How do you view the D2 field as whole? What do you think of the division spilt and playoff format?
YTM: First, I think it is amazing to see more new teams in the league this year. It is really cool to be a part of this diverse and ever growing league. There are a lot of new teams in the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st divisions so it is tough to make any predictions (But surely Schieber and Rademaker will do well with their preseason predictions, as long as we are put towards the top of our conference). I like the format we are set in with the conferences, and some of the new teams I am really intrigued by and hope they bring more challenges to the field.
BDSL: Naw those two are idiots. FAKE NEWS to me. I know its only been one year in the league but is there a team you guys are sad you won't be seeing from D3 this year? Or maybe a team you consider yourself a rival against that’s no more? Or maybe that squad moved up with you?
YTM: I personally will miss playing Stone Jug because they are where a few others and myself started, and they’re all great guys. I think we will also miss Aftershock a bit since those guys are all fun to play against, but we won’t miss the commute down to wherever they played their home games. I think naturally we will have a chip on our shoulders when we play Bosnia, just since they beat us in the playoffs. Otherwise I like to think we don’t have any archrivals at the moment. We are pretty content up here in the north.
BDSL: It’s a fair point about the drive time there. Would you rather have teams keep their home fields? Or do you think long term the league would be better of moving to more centralized locations with games starting and ending as same field all day?
YTM: Nah, I think its perfect the way it is. It’s really cool to go all over the western New York area and see all the different fields. I think it shows just how popular the sport is in our area, and I think that is something we should accept. If it means driving 3 hours round trip for a game… ideally we don’t want that but all in all it’s nice weather in the summer and its all for the love of the BDSL.
BDSL: Long term what are the goals of the club? Are you guys looking to move as far up the table as possible into D1 and beyond? Or is for your side more about playing with a certain group where you have some limitations on how high you can go?
YTM: I think our goals will show for us after the results of this summer are finished. I think many of the guys want to climb the table and see where we go. For me, I am pretty happy to just play no matter what. I’ve been asked personally if I would play for upper division teams and for the moment I am committed to getting the Marksmen up through the leagues. This all depends on who is willing to keep playing and many other factors, though. Only time will tell.
BDSL: If you had to play on another BDSL Team whom would that be and why?
YTM: Probably Queenston. Before I even knew about the BDSL I'd watch their games at the fort. I've known Netter for years and Lord Sims coached my travel team growing up and I played sessions with them at Plex. Other than Queenston, I'd play for any team close by that I wouldn't have to manage.
BDSL: What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a new team entering the league whether to the manager or the team as a whole?
YTM: I'd say everyone in the league is really welcoming (although if you're a young squad you can get a little stick for that), so just ask around if there are questions needing answered, and remember that the BDSL is competitive fun no matter what. And the first season can be a bit hectic, but things smooth out afterward. It's all worth it for an awesome league like this.
BDSL: Lastly, is there anything here we didn’t cover that you like to add about your team, the league or for good of soccer?
YTM: I think our team is developing extremely well. I think we will have much more confidence in our play with many guys understanding what kind of play the BDSL has to offer. At least speaking for myself, I feel extremely confident in my play. We've got myself and others who are playing some college ball and that can definitely show in our results for the summer.
Fun fact, we've got a small section of fans across the pond in Bristol, after someone over there saw our modified Bristol Rovers logo and loved it and showed it off on a fan forum (although they said we need to switch to "quartered" kits and get rid of the hoops).
Marksmen merch might also be available this summer for all the soccer moms and fans of the boys in green. Lastly, Netter is a weirdo. Up the Marks!
BDSL: Love the Bristol Rovers Tidbit. Very cool. Thanks for the Interview Ben