August 29, 2017

Thomas Headlines 2017 NAC Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll

Thomas College has been tabbed the preseason favorite in the 2017 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) men's soccer poll. The Terriers were voted to finish No. 1 after receiving a total of 92 points, including five of the ten first place votes.

Castleton University was selected second with 82 points and one first-place vote, while New England College took third with 79 points and three first-place votes. Colby-Sawyer College was voted fourth with 76 points, while Husson University garnered the remaining first-place vote and 69 points to take fifth.

Rounding out the poll were Maine Maritime Academy in sixth (50 points), Lyndon State College in seventh (38 points), University of Maine at Farmington in eighth (31 points), Johnson State College in ninth (23 points), and Green Mountain College in 10th (10 points).

Voting for the preseason poll was conducted among the league's head men's soccer coaches. 

2017 NAC Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll

   Team                    Points (First Place Votes)
 1. Thomas 92 (5)
 2. Castleton 82 (1)
 3. New England College    79 (3)
 4. Colby-Sawyer 76
 5. Husson 69 (1)
 6. Maine Maritime  50
 7. Lyndon  38
 8. UMaine-Farmington  31
 9. Johnson 23
 10. Green Mountain  10 


The top six teams in the 2017 poll competed in the NAC Tournament last season. The 2016 quarterfinals saw the No. 4 and No. 6 seeds advance, as No. 6 NEC upset No. 3 Colby-Sawyer 2-1 and No. 4 Husson claimed a 1-0 victory over No. 5 Maine Maritime. Top-seeded Thomas earned a 3-2 overtime battle against the Eagles in the semifinals, while the Pilgrims continued their run with a 2-1 win over No. 2 Castleton. After a scoreless regulation and two overtime periods, New England College earned the 2016 NAC Title over the Terriers, as they outshot them 4-2 in penalty kicks.

After NEC secured its first NAC title, the Pilgrims moved on to compete in the NCAA Tournament. In the first round of the national tournament, New England College fell 1-0 to eventual quarterfinalist Rutgers-Newark.

Nine of the ten NAC men's soccer teams will kick off the 2017 campaign this weekend. The top six teams in the regular-season conference standings will qualify for the NAC tournament, which gets underway Sunday, October 29, with quarterfinal action between seeds 3-6. The top two seeds will earn a bye in the first round and will take on the two quarterfinal winners in the semifinals on Wednesday, November 1. The two semifinal victors will battle for the NAC championship on Saturday, November 4.

Click HERE to view the 2017 NAC Men's Soccer composite schedule.

2017 NAC Men's Soccer Previews

For more information on each team, click the school name to be directed to the men's soccer section of each school's website.


1. Thomas (12-4-2, 9-0 NAC) looks to make a sixth-straight NAC Championship game appearance under seven-year head coach Chris Parsons. Parsons, the 2016 NAC Coach of the Year, returns 16 players from last year's NAC Runner-Up team. Adam LaBrie (Yarmouth, Maine; pictured right), a 2016 NAC First Team and NSCAA All-New England Region Second Team member, returns for his junior season after leading the conference with 17 goals last season. Fellow juniors DJ Nicholas (Portland, Maine) and Josh Emard (Lebanon, Maine), and senior Tevin Reid (Dorchester, Mass.) will also provide depth on the Terriers front line as they combined for 20 goals and 14 assists in 2016. Thomas will open the season on Friday, September 1, as the squad hosts Unity College at 7:00 p.m. 



2. Castleton (8-9-2, 7-2 NAC)
 will once again be led by head coach John O'Connor, who is entering his fifth year at the helm of the Spartans. Castleton looks to be strong on both ends of the pitch with 2016 NAC Defensive Player of the Year Thomas Kirk (Gloversville, N.Y.; pictured right) and 2016 Rookie of the Year Jack Kingdon (Woodbury, Conn.) both returning to the squad. Freshmen Seraphin Iradukunda (Burlington, Vt.) and Valter Jacobsson (Skane, Sweden) lead a strong core of newcomers that add to the Spartans' balanced presence. Castleton aims to be playing its best soccer down the stretch and get back to the NAC championship in 2017. The team opens at Southern Maine on September 1. 


3. New England College (11-10-1, 5-4 NAC)
 will look to build momentum off of last season's NAC Championship title and the program's first-ever NCAA appearance under the leadership of veteran head coach Dave DeCew. DeCew returns for his 15th season at the helm of the men's soccer program and returns some talented players from last year's championship team, including Michael Skarbelis (North Andover, Mass.; pictured right), an all-conference first team selection and a NSCAA All-New England player. Starting midfielders Cooper Valinski (Portsmouth, N.H.) and Panagiotis Galatas (Hillsboro, N.H.) are also back, while starting defender Vasili Vakalfotis (Burlington, Mass.) will spearhead a defense that gave up just 1.41 goals per game last season. Additionally, the Pilgrims welcome top recruits Tucker Stenger (Enfield, N.H.), a forward, and Xavier Lloyd (Somers, N.Y.), a defender, to the roster. NEC opens the season on the road at Mitchell College on September 1, and they will face off with nationally-ranked Amherst on October 4. 



4. Colby-Sawyer (10-7-1, 6-2-1 NAC), which will be led by second-year head coach Charles Metz, will look to record a fourth-straight season with double-digits in the win column. The Chargers will once again be led by last year's NAC Player of the Year, senior Denali Sexton (Barrington, R.I.; pictured right). He led the team with 33 points on 15 goals and three assists in 2016. The backline will be led by All-NAC Second Team honoree junior Anthony Romeo (Albany, N.Y.). In addition to helping the backline preserve six clean sheets a last season, Romeo collected the second most assists on the team with five. The Chargers will open the season with four-straight road games beginning on September 1 at Johnson & Wales. 



5. Husson (9-7-2, 6-2-1 NAC)
will be under the guidance of second-year head coach Gavin Penny. The Eagles will look to seniors Josh Bellomo (Hudson, N.H.), Saker Ghanayem (Orlando, Fla.), Cody Gross (Fairlawn, N.J.; pictured right), and Gage Kennedy (Farmington, Maine) and juniors Rod Ghanayem (Orlando, Fla.) and Miguel Caballero (Orono, Maine) to lead the 2017 squad. R. Ghanayem and Cabellero lead the team in goals last season, while Kennedy and Gross will spear head a defensive unit that only allowed 1.6 goals per game a season ago. The Eagles will aim for its fourth NAC Championship in program history in 2017 and open with Saint Joseph's (Me.) on Friday, September 1.  




6. Maine Maritime (6-11-1, 5-4 NAC) will be led by Billy Shannon who enters his second season at the helm after leading the team to the NAC Tournament as the fifth seed in his first season. The Mariners return their top three goal scorers from last season, including 2016 All-NAC Second Team Selection Dalton Moore (Hollis Center, Maine; pictured right) who returns for his sophomore season. The Mariners are looking to return to the NAC Tournament again this season and will open up play on Friday, September 1, against the University of New England. 


7. Lyndon (6-8-1, 3-6 NAC)
 will see Rob Carey return for his third season at the helm. The 2017 squad returns nine seniors and nine starters. The team will be led by returning senior midfield captain, Liam Kelleher (Manchester, Vt.) as well as returning senior goal keeper Matt LaClair (Beekmantown, N.Y.). On top, Devin Cowan (Saranac Lake, N.Y.; pictured right) will return as a senior and last year's leading goal scorer, with 14 goals and three assists. Brad Shumway will also return for his senior campaign to help put the ball in the back of the net. In the midfield, Nate Kolash (Dubois, Pa.), Abukar Hassan (Kenya/South Burlington, Vt.), Jose Darias (Sudbury, Mass.), Jake Nelson (Guildhall, Vt.) and Dylan Cherko (Manchester, Conn.) all return and will be impact players. The defensive unit will stay mostly intact from a season ago, with three returnees in seniors Josh Thibault (Glover, Vt.) and Dylan Jacobs (Braintree, Vt.) and junior Nolan Matthews (Massapequa, N.Y.). Overall, the Hornets have an immense amount experience in the NAC and will be pushing to make a strong push into the post season. The team will open up play with Vermont Tech on Wednesday, September 6. 




8. UMaine-Farmington (4-12, 2-7 NAC) will be led by Nathan Kronewetter who enters his first year with the Beavers. The Beavers will see key returning players on the pitch this season, including Matt Wilson (Hamden, Conn.) in goal, while Nick Marshall (Portsmouth, R.I.; pictured right) and Andrew Longhurst (Middletown, Del.) will be looked upon to lead the Beavers into a challenging position for the NAC Tournament. The team opens at home against Rivier on September 2. 





9. Johnson (2-13, 1-8 NAC) will be under the guidance of head coach Shane Bufano who enters his first season. The Badgers return Second Team All-Conference forward Dominic Caforia (Waterbury, Vt.; pictured right), junior defender John Folsom (Califon, N.J.) and junior midfielder Nick Cosentino (Waitsfield, Vt.) to go along with a group of 19 newcomers. Johnson has an exciting group of young talent that will look to return to the NAC Tournament for the first time since 2010. The squad will open the season on September 1, hosting Vermont Tech. 




10. Green Mountain (0-15, 0-9 NAC) enters the 2017 season with Peter Steese at the helm of the Eagles' program in his fifth season. Griffin Shelor (Cedar Park, Texas) returns for his senior year boasting the versatility to have played both in the field and in net for the Eagles last season. The team will be buoyed by junior Cameron Book (Poultney, Vt.; pictured right) who looks to continue his improvement in the midfield. The Eagles will employ several new faces in the starting lineup this year and will be looking forward to their development over the course of the season. Green Mountain opens the season at home on September 2 against Yeshiva.