Defending Champion Penn State Abington Ranks First in 2018 NEAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll

Defending Champion Penn State Abington Ranks First in 2018 NEAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – Coming off the program’s first conference title in 2017, Penn State Abington has been picked as the top team in the 2018 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) men’s soccer preseason poll.  

Penn State Abington is the early pick to repeat its success with 11 first-place votes and 121 points after going 10-0 against NEAC opponents last fall. The Nittany Lions will return nine starters from the 2017 squad, including NEAC All-Conference First Team midfielder Jose Palomeque (Upper Dublin, Pa.). The Abington sophomore scored six goals and four assists in his first collegiate season and will look to lead an offense that includes sophomore all-conference midfielder Michael Albers (Southampton, Pa.) and senior forward Hernando Villamil (Philadelphia, Pa.). The 2017 NEAC Coach of the Year David Castellanos begins his 13th season and will use non-league contests against Rutgers-Camden, Widener and Neumann to prepare for the conference slate.

After competing in a closely-contested NEAC Championship game last November, SUNY Poly is the No. 2 pick in the preseason poll with 96 points and the final first-place vote. The Wildcats will see a pair of NEAC All-Conference First Team players return to the field in forward Benjamin Alonge (Elmont, N.Y.) and defender Jeremiah Besse (Delmar, N.Y.). Alonge ranked second in the NEAC with 12 goals and 27 points while Besse was part of a defensive unit that posted a 1.17 goals-against average in 2017. Head Coach Peterson Jerome is back at the helm for his 15th year and will hope to build upon the 11-9 overall record posted by his team last year.

Keuka College comes in third with 89 points after going 7-7-3 overall and making it to the NEAC Quarterfinals last season. The Wolves lost only three seniors to graduation and possess an experienced roster that includes the all-conference duo of midfielder Samba Doukhansy (Bronx, N.Y.) and Josh Card (McGraw, N.Y.). The pair combined for 12 goals and 32 points last fall and will be looked to as offensive leaders in 2018. Head Coach Steve Christenson is in his seventh year and has booked quality non-conference games for the Wolves against the University of Rochester and RIT.

Trailing the Wolves by just one point, Penn State Berks sits at No. 4 in the coaches’ poll with 88 total points. Head Coach Adrian Munteanu and the Nittany Lions have 12 returners on the 2018 squad, including NEAC Offensive Player and Rookie of the Year Brenden Valverde (Birdsboro, Pa.). The sophomore forward had an impressive 2017 where he led the NEAC with 22 goals, 50 points, 99 shots and four game-winning goals. Forward T.J. Yurkovic (Harrisburg, Pa.) and defender Tom Ulrich (Bernville, Pa.) are also expected to make an impact in their senior season while Geraldo Sosa (Reading, Pa.) will return in goal after posting a 7-3-0 mark in 2017.

Morrisville State enters the new season ranked fifth with 84 points after advancing to the NEAC Quarterfinals in 2017. Head Coach Kyle Graves returns for his eighth season with experience in key positions and a promising group of newcomers. Daniel Sparkowski (East Meadow, N.Y.) and Odaine Jackson (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) will provide leadership for the defense while junior Kossi Nodjo (New York City, N.Y.) will be expected to help the offense after scoring 11 points last season. The Mustangs will look to improve upon the 6-3-1 conference record and the 7-10-1 overall mark from 2017 to make a return to the NEAC playoffs.

The full 2018 NEAC men’s soccer preseason rankings can be found below:

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1. Penn State Abington (11) 121
2. SUNY Poly (1) 96
3. Keuka College 89
4. Penn State Berks 88
5. Morrisville State 84
6. Lancaster Bible 78
7. Penn College 72
8. SUNY Cobleskill 55
9. Wells College 42
10. Gallaudet University * 28
11. Cazenovia College * 28
12. College of Saint Elizabeth 11
* Tie broken by higher ordinal number points

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The preseason poll rankings were conducted by the NEAC men’s soccer coaches, with each coach ranking all teams but their own using a staggered points system (11 points for a first-place vote, 10 points for second, etc.). The 2018 NEAC men’s soccer season will begin Friday, Aug. 31, with a full season schedule being available on the NEAC website

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has 12 NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Cazenovia College, College of Saint Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, Morrisville State, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Wells College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (W Lacrosse), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse), Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf), and Wilson College (M Volleyball). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sport of men’s tennis and with the Colonial State Athletic Conference in the sport of Field Hockey. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com