Three-Time Champion Morrisville State College Tops 2017 NEAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll

Three-Time Champion Morrisville State College Tops 2017 NEAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – With three-straight conference titles under their belt, the Morrisville State College Mustangs have been picked as the preseason favorite in the 2017 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) men’s soccer preseason poll.  

Morrisville State received 11 out of a possible 14 first-place votes and two second-place votes to earn 165 total points. Head coach Kyle Graves enters his eighth season relying on the playoff experience of 15 players and five starters to guide the Mustangs to another postseason berth. Last season, Morrisville State posted a 16-4 overall mark and a 12-1 conference record en route to the NEAC regular season and tournament championships. All-Conference midfielders Jose Figueroa (Boston, Mass.) and Julian Rodriguez (Bronx, N.Y.) should help lead the offense after combining for 19 goals and 49 points in 2016. NEAC Rookie of the Year Griffen MacWatters (Ballston Spa, N.Y.) will also look to build on his first-year success that included eight goals and five assists. Defensively, senior Ryan Houghtalen (Syracuse, N.Y.) returns to anchor a defense that held its opponents to 22 goals in 20 games. 

After earning the second seed in the 2016 NEAC Tournament, Penn State Abington received two first-place votes and a total of 153 points to finish second in the 2017 preseason rankings. Second Team All-Conference forward Hernando Villamil (Philadelphia, Pa.) leads the offensive returners after scoring 15 goals and 31 points last season. All-Conference honorees Andrew Costa (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Chris Schlegel (Philadelphia, Pa.) also return with experience in hopes of pushing the Nittany Lions deeper in the postseason. The reigning NEAC Coach of the Year Dave Castellanos begins his 13th year at the helm with 22 players and nine starters returning from the 2016 team.

Keuka College returns 13 players and eight starters from a team that finished as the runner-up in the 2016 NEAC Tournament. The Wolves received one first-place vote and 139 points to place third in the coaches’ preseason poll. Despite losing NEAC Player of the Year Paulin Kolodja (Rochester, N.Y.) to graduation, the Wolves have their back four returning in 2017 to handle the defensive efforts. All-Conference defenders Claude Tuyishimire (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Noah Ogden (Rochester, N.Y.) will be two of the top returners after helping hold Keuka opponents to a 1.37 goals-against average in 2016. In addition to a competitive NEAC slate, the Wolves will face the likes of the University of Rochester and R.I.T. during their non-conference schedule.

Penn State Berks and Wells College tied with 120 points, but two second-place votes secured the No. 4 spot in the poll for Penn State Berks. The Nittany Lions will return to the pitch with nine players and eight starters from 2016, including the all-conference duo of T.J. Yurkovic (Harrisburg, Pa.) and Cole Mays (Havertown, Pa.) that tallied a combined 52 points last season. Third Team All-Conference goalkeeper Gerardo Sosa (Reading, Pa.) is also expected to be an impact player after posting nine wins and a 1.83 goals-against average in 2016.

Wells College enters the new season ranked fifth in the preseason poll as first-year head coach Jim Clementi inherits 15 players and six starters from the 2016 roster. The senior trio of Owen May (Warsaw, N.Y.), Carlos Valdivieso (Atlanta, Ga.) and Jim Duchesneau (South Glastonbury, Conn.) will serve as leaders of their squad after earning all-conference honors in 2016. The Express will also face some quality competition in the non-conference portion of their schedule with contests against the University of Rochester and Ithaca College.

The full 2017 men’s soccer preseason rankings can be found below:

 

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1. Morrisville State College (11) 165
2. Penn State Abington (2) 153
3. Keuka College (1) 139
4. Penn State Berks* 120
5. Wells College* 120
6. Lancaster Bible 114
7. SUNY Poly 112
8. SUNY Cobleskill 76
9. Wilson College 68
10. Bryn Athyn College 66
11. Penn College 55
12. Cazenovia College 41
13. Gallaudet University 32
14. College of St. Elizabeth 13
* 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 (13 points for a first-place vote, 12 points for second, etc.). The 2017 NEAC men’s soccer season will begin Friday, Sept. 1, with a full season schedule being available on the NEAC website

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