FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Christopher Newport received top billing as the favorite to repeat in the 2017 Capital Athletic Conference Men's Soccer Preseason Poll. The Captains, who captured their second CAC Tournament Championship last fall, received seven first-place votes and 79 points to take the top spot in the voting among the conference head coaches.
Mary Washington, which finished as the regular season and tournament runner-up in 2016, finished second in the voting with 73 points and two first-place votes. York also earned a first-place nod and placed third in the rankings with 60 total points.
St. Mary's (58 points), Salisbury (48 points) and Frostburg State (46) rounded out the top six of expected playoff teams in fourth through sixth, respectively.
Penn State Harrisburg took seventh with 34 points, followed by Wesley (22 points), Marymount (21 points), and Southern Virginia (9 points).
The 2017 season kicks off on Friday, Sept. 1 with seven CAC teams in action. CAC play begins Sept. 23 and runs through October, with the CAC Championship game slated for Saturday, Nov. 4.
2017 CAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|1.||Christopher Newport||79 (7)|
|2.||Mary Washington||73 (2)|
|7.||Penn State Harrisburg||34|
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2017 campaign:
CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT has been tabbed the No. 21-ranked team in the nation according to the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll. The Captains hauled in a spot in the preseason Top 25 for the sixth time int he last eight seasons after posting an 18-3-1 record last fall. Head coach Steve Shaw is closing in on 300 victories for his career with just two wins needed in 2017 to eclipse the milestone, and the dean of CNU head coaches will welcome back a talented group of Captains that won the 2016 CAC Championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Senior All-American and CAC Player of the Year Jimmy Grace is back to anchor the veteran unit after scoring a team-high 32 points on 13 goals and six assists last year.
Defense has been the backbone of FROSTBURG STATE for the last four years, but the 2017 season could see a shift to the front line as Bobcat head coach Keith Byrnes and his staff return some viable talent at forward and midfield. Sophomore Josh McRobie paced Frostburg in scoring last fall with 17 points behind seven goals and three assists. The Bobcats posted some of the CAC's best marks in saves (101), save percentage (.789) and goals allowed (27) and Frostburg collected six shutouts in 20 games in 2016. While the defense will be led by junior Brett Basham, the veteran leadership upfront will be led via the return of seniors Mukor Harris (forward), Jonathan Lippitt (midfield) and Rodrigo Valanzuela (midfield). Junior midfielder Ernie Williams will also provide a valuable role in several areas of the field.
MARY WASHINGTON will welcome back nine starters to a team that made an appearance in the CAC Championship. Coach Jason Kilby will lean on All-CAC selections Gary Foley and Colin Travis to anchor the defense in front of goalie Matt Spencer. The Eagles, who lost their two top goal scorers to graduation, hope that All-CAC performer Jack Saslowsky and Ryan Van Maanen can make up for that loss.
MARYMOUNT will look to two-time First-Team All-CAC junior defender Rodney Ngoh to anchor a defense that returns everyone, including returning sophomores Michael Ku-Dipietro and goalkeeper John Valcicak. Head Coach Keith Moser, who enters his 28th season at the helm of the program, will look to his returning point, assist and goal leader in junior Brandon Orozco to lead the offensive charge along with other returning starters in juniors Marc Mendoza, Chris Cardenas and Mynor Lopez.
After making CAC conference tournament and reaching the ECAC Semi-Finals, PENN STATE HARRISBURG is looking to continue its success. Dan Krzyzanowicz enters his second year at the helm and will need to rely on senior Victor Weaver and junior Ethan Hoover to take the next step forward.
ST. MARY'S returns nine starters from last year's 12-win squad, including all-region performers Juwan Kearson and Khalid Balogun. Balogun had a fantastic rookie campaign, earning CAC Rookie of the Year honors and finishing second on the team with eight goals and 20 points. Kearson picked up his second All-CAC honor with 14 points on five goals and four assists. The defense will be led by All-CAC performers Zack Haussler and Andrew Battin. Haussler garnered his first all-conference honor after leading the CAC in save percentage with .840 and ranking second with 0.95 GAA while collecting four shutouts.
SALISBURY looks to return to the top of the conference in head coach Alex Hargrove's second season. With 16 newcomers and 14 returners, Salisbury hopes the blend of experience and youth leads to success. Senior defenders Colby Fell, Mike Kramer, and Nick Carrington return to the fold after a season in which the Sea Gulls allowed a league-low 17 goals. Carrington was second on the team in goals behind sophomore Dolph Hegewisch, who earned second-team All-CAC honors in his freshman campaign.
SOUTHERN VIRGINIA is looking to turn this around this season. With first-year head coach Jan Boer, the Knights are hopeful for their first CAC playoff berth in program history. Seniors Colin Flynn and Marrott Weekes will be joined by a handful of returners, combined with 13 newcomers.
With a plethora of young talent and a solid group of upperclassmen, WESLEY will look to return to the CAC Tournament after missing the tournament in 2016. The Wolverines will be led by their senior captains Seth Laucht, Patrick Schlosser and Matt Waldron. The Wolverines also return sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Spingsteen, who was a CAC Defensive Player of the Week and an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week in 2016.
YORK enters the 2017 season with a very young but talented roster as the Spartans look to continue their climb up the CAC standings. Head coach Evan Scheffey enters year three with a roster that is stocked with a large core of talented sophomore and freshmen while a solid senior class provides the team steady leadership. Scheffey welcomes back All-CAC midfielder Nathan Bilbie to steady the Spartan attack. Senior Joel Teston will combine with Bilbie to give York a nice one-two punch up top. The Spartan defense should be stout with the return of sophomore captain Brook Addisu and senior Ben Mochan. The Spartans will have a few spots to fill including goalie, but Scheffey is confident he will be able to man those spots with talented young players.