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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fornaro, Watkins look to lead as new captains

Watkins+%28left%29+and+Fornaro+%28right%29+both+started+18+games+last+season.+PHOTO%3A+Charley+Rekstis+20
Watkins (left) and Fornaro (right) both started 18 games last season. PHOTO: Charley Rekstis ’20

With co-captains senior defenseman Mike Fornaro and junior midfielder Aidan Watkins leading the way, the St. Joe’s men’s soccer team is poised to make a run at the Atlantic 10 Tournament this year.

The captains said they are looking to build momentum off last season where they finished 8-7-3 and just missed out on the tournament. The captain duo was chosen by the coaches to help lead them back to the postseason.

“We get a lot of feedback from the team when we do our individual meetings,” Head Coach Don D’Ambra said. “I think a leader is when coaches aren’t around who’s leading by example, who’s doing the right things. And so a lot of guys just kept mentioning their names.”

Fornaro returns to his position as co-captain after holding the title last season, while this is Watkins’ first year wearing the captain’s armband.

“Aidan’s a guy who deserved it,” Fornaro said. “I kind of knew when I got here that he was gonna be a captain. Not much has changed for him but he’s more vocal now, especially on the field.”

Watkins said his experience as a captain at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Ind. prepared him for the role he now holds for the Hawks. He said he doesn’t see himself as superior to anyone else on the team, he just acts as a voice that’s just a little louder than the others.

“I’m not gonna call him the bad cop, but Mike is the vocal one off the field,” Watkins said. “I try to keep a little bit of the positivity going for the team for the most part. Just keep guys up. Try to communicate things on the field.”

For the younger players, having someone like Watkins with them on the field both during games and at practice provides them with some support according to sophomore midfielder Garrett Lyons.

“I play the same position as Aidan,” Lyons said. “I ask him a lot of questions and he’ll pull me aside and show me what I was doing wrong and how I can be better. It’s never in a mean or yelling way. He’s always calm and helpful.”

Since transferring from Rutgers University his sophomore year, Fornaro has been captain for a majority of his career here at Hawk Hill. It is a role he said he has become comfortable in.

“For me the biggest thing is working with a new group of guys, younger guys,” Fornaro said. “I have to show them the right way to do things and what the program is all about.”

D’Ambra said part of the captains’ duties is to implement what’s expected and keep positive order.

“Michael is like that authoritative guy that’s not afraid to speak up,” D’Ambra said. “If someone’s out of line, he’ll call them out on it. He makes sure everything is in order and in place off the field. He is an organizer and an enforcer.”

While Fornaro and Watkins have learned to balance each other and work together, they have also had to do the same with the rest of the team.

“I think they know we have a lot of strong personalities on the team this year and that reflects in their leadership,” Lyons said. “They trust other guys to do things. They relay responsibility. They’re not the captains who do everything.”

D’Ambra said he emphasizes this building of culture within the team. The team is focused on getting better throughout the season and building a foundation of hard work and respect. He believes if they get that, the wins will follow.

“When you look around at the talent we have on this team, we have a chance to make a real run at the A-10 championship,” Fornaro said. “I think everyone in the locker room would say the A-10 championship is our goal and everyone’s focused towards that right now.”

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