Summer may be over, but the soccer field is about to heat up for the Binghamton men’s soccer team. After weeks of hard work and preparation, the Bearcats are set to return to play this Friday night in a home game against George Washington University.

The team returned to campus to begin preseason training on Aug. 10 under the guidance of returning BU head coach Paul Marco. Among those returning to the field are redshirt senior midfielder Charlie Novoth and junior back Kevin Flesch, who will serve as captains for the 2017 season.

“They set great examples,” Marco said. “They’re both very humble, they’re both very connected, very grateful for the things that they have.”

Last season, Novoth served as a starter, finishing the season with two goals and leading the team with four assists alongside junior midfielder Harrison Weilbacher. This will be his second year serving as captain and his last season as a Bearcat.

“Charlie’s fitness came back outstanding, so he’s led by example from the moment the guys walked in,” Marco said.

Novoth, who missed the 2015 season due to injury, seemed enthusiastic about embarking on the last leg of his journey at Binghamton.

“I’m very excited,” Novoth said. “It’s my fifth year here now, so there’s a lot of pressure to get something and win something with this team. We have the ability this year, and I’m pretty excited to get on with it.”

Indeed, the team has adopted T-shirts adorned with the phrase “The Journey,” a reference to its plan to journey back to the America East (AE) Championship game, where they last appeared in 2015.

“We definitely want to accomplish that again,” Flesch said. “It’s just an amazing experience to play in the final. That’s every athlete’s goal, is to make it to the final, and that’s what ‘the journey’ is about. Eventually, we want to get the trophy.”

Flesch also had an impressive 2016 season, securing a spot on the AE All-Tournament Team at the end of the regular season and earning a goal and assist for Binghamton during regular-season play.

Marco appeared optimistic about the 2017 season and the balance between the returners and the incoming players. However, Marco was reluctant to distinguish any freshman stars before further study of their play.

“The team, experience-wise, looks pretty good, and then we add a very good freshman class to that group,” Marco said. “We’ve had a few [freshmen] stand out. I think that the time that they have between now and the first exhibition game will really tell us how good this freshman class will be.”

BU is slotted to take the field this Friday against George Washington University. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.