Harrisburg City Islanders News Release -- www.cityislanders.com
Friday, March 11, 2011
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Harrisburg City Islanders are proud to announce that team captain Dustin Bixler will be returning for his seventh season with the squad pending USSF approval. The City Islanders will also be adding two new faces to the team this season in defender Andrew Marshall and midfielder Nelson Becerra, also pending USSF approval, as they look to make big strides in USL PRO's 2011 season.
Bixler, a Mechanicsburg native, joined Harrisburg in 2005 after a solid career at Lock Haven University, where he was a four-year starter and a three-time all-conference selection. In 2003 and 2004, Bixler was a Division II All-Northeast Region selection for the Bald Eagles. He was selected as the conference's Athlete of the Year following his senior year in 2005.
Bixler has been a mainstay in the City Islanders' back line since 2007, where he was named the USL-2 Championship match MVP. His accolades include three consecutive selections to the USL-2 All-League ('08 second team, '09 and '10 first team), and he is Harrisburg's all-time leader in starts and minutes played. Last year, in his 88th appearance for the City Islanders, Bixler scored his first professional goal in 2-1 win against the Charleston Battery. His experience and leadership will be invaluable to the team this season, giving them a legitimate shot at claiming the USL PRO crown in 2011.
"We are really happy to have Dustin back for the 2011 season," City Islanders head coach Bill Becher said regarding his captain. "He's a great leader on and off the field, and he's a physical presence in the back for us. Re-signing Dustin for 2011 was always a priority, so obviously we're very glad he is coming back."
Although Marshall is new to the City Islanders' roster, he has been a familiar face in USL since 2007. After a collegiate career at Towson University where he started all 76 games over his four years, he was signed by Crystal Palace Baltimore in their inaugural season.
After debuting in the club's first ever match on April 20th, 2007, Marshall went on to become the club's all-time leader in appearances and minutes played. His career awards include appearances on the USL-2 Team of the Week, a USL-2 Player of the Week selection, and a place on the USL-2 All-League second team in 2009. The wealth of experience between Marshall and Bixler is unmatched in USL, making the center of the City Islanders' defense one of the most imposing defensive pairings in the entire league.
"Andrew was a really important signing for us," Becher said. "[Assistant coach] Steve Widdowson and I have liked him since the first time we saw him play with Crystal Palace Baltimore. We feel that Andrew will fit in well with our team, and we know he will bring a lot of experience with him."
To round out the trio of signings, Becerra comes to the City Islanders having been a part of several successful soccer teams throughout his younger years. Hailing from Paterson, New Jersey, "Nelly" played club soccer for the highly successful Players Development Academy (PDA), while playing his high soccer at national powerhouse St. Benedict's Prep.
In college, Nelson played two seasons at St. John's University after a strong freshman season at Centenary College. In 2008, he was named Midfielder of the Year for the Big East conference and helped lead the Red Storm to their first College Cup appearance since 2003, earning himself an invite to the 2009 MLS Combine.
"Nelson caught my eye when I saw him at our joint open tryout with the Philadelphia Union," Becher said. "What stood out to me was how calm he was when he had the ball. He has great composure and a lot of creativity. His attitude is to attack, so we're excited about adding him to the squad."
With Bixler, Marshall, and Becerra all on board for the City Islanders in 2011, the team's prospects for the upcoming USL PRO season looks very bright.
The Harrisburg City Islanders will open the regular season at the Skyline Sports Complex against the in-state rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, April 16th (7:00 p.m.) before traveling west for a rematch of the opener on Saturday, April 23rd (7:00 p.m.). For more information on the City Islanders, or any questions regarding season ticket discounts for the upcoming season, contact the team at 717-441-GOAL, or visit www.cityislanders.com.