Thomas Tops 2019 NAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll

 

Defending North Atlantic Conference (NAC) champions, Thomas College received six first-place votes and 77 points to top the 2019 Men's Soccer preseason poll.

Maine Maritime received two first-place votes and 70 points for a second-place prediction. Husson claimed the remaining first-place vote and 57 points to round out the top three. 

SUNY Delhi enters their first year in the conference tied with SUNY Canton for the fourth place position, each receiving 51 points. NVU-Johnson finished sixth (40 points), UMaine-Farmington seventh (31 points), NVU-Lyndon eighth (16 points), and UMaine-Presque Isle (UMPI) landed in the ninth spot with 12 points.

Head coaches vote in the preseason poll.

Maine Maritime earned the 2018 top seed, a bye in the quarterfinals, and the right to host the final four of the conference tournament. Thomas finished second by virtue of a tiebreaker with Husson, and also received a bye for the quarterfinal round. In the quarterfinals, #4 Canton topped #5 NVU-Johnson, 5-0, and #3 Husson beat #6 UMaine-Farmington, 2-1, to reach the semifinals.

In the semifinal round, #4 SUNY Canton defeated the #1 Mariners, 2-1, at Ritchie Field before #2 Thomas bested #3 Husson by the same score. October in Maine presented wet and windy conditions, and a power outage forced the second semifinal game (Husson vs. Thomas) to move from Castine to Waterville on short notice. The Thomas team returned to Castine the next day and won the championship, 1-0, over the Roos in a tightly contested match. Thomas represented the NAC in the 2018 NCAA Men's Soccer tournament, falling to Connecticut College in the first round.

Eight teams open non-conference play this weekend, on August 30. NAC contests begin on September 14 and continue through October. The top six teams will qualify for the 2019 conference championship tournament, which begins with quarterfinal games on the first weekend in November. The semifinals and championship games are on November 9-10 at the site of the number one seed. The NAC champion will advance to the NCAA men's soccer tournament. Follow the conference championship tournament with live stats and video HERE.

Click HERE to view the 2019 composite schedule and HERE for the NAC Men's Soccer Archives. Click the school names below to visit team pages.

 

 

1. THOMAS - 77 pts. (6 first-place votes)

Chris Parsons returns for his ninth season coaching Thomas (14-5-1, 5-1-1 NAC), following the program's fifth NAC Championship a season ago. He brings back an experienced group led by 2018 NAC All-Conference First Team defender Benjamin Vigue (Yarmouth, Maine), MacQuille Walker (Hamilton Parish, Bermuda) and 2018 NAC Rookie of the Year Kyle Patterson (Gorham, Maine). A mix of transfers and first-year newcomers will add depth and experience, including Eric LaBrie (Yarmouth, Maine), Cooper Lyons (Gorham, Maine), Hayden Elwell (Readfield, Maine) and Micah Mendes (Smith's, Bermuda). Thomas opens the season on the road at Gordon College on August 30.

   

2. MAINE MARITIME - 70 pts. (2 first-place votes)

The 2018 NAC Men's Soccer Coach of the Year, Billy Shannon, returns for his fourth season at the helm of the Mariners (8-7-1, 6-1 NAC ). The 2018 NAC Men's Soccer Player of the Year, Matthew Caron (Scarborough, Maine), enters his senior season and will be joined by fellow 2018 NAC First Team selections Evan Backus (Farmington, Maine) and Ryan Holmes (Newmarket, N.H.). With a talented group of returners and incoming first-year players, the Mariners intend to contend for the 2019 NAC Championship after claiming the top overall seed last season. Maine Maritime hosts the University of New England on August 30 to kick of the season.

   

3. HUSSON - 57 pts. (1 first place-vote)

Husson's (8-9-3, 5-1-1 NAC) fourth-year head coach Gavin Penny has built a deep squad this year, returning 12 players while bringing in a host of new players who are set to make an immediate impact in the starting lineup. The team returns a core of strong sophomores including Gerard Arias Huerta (Manresa, Spain), All-NAC First Team Bryce Hayman (Gray, Maine), and All-NAC Second Team Ali Essallamy (Fez, Morocco). Husson will also return last year's starting goalkeeper Kyle Townsend (Hampden, Maine) as well as rising junior Jahmal Williams (Wingdale, N.Y.). Key incoming players to watch include center back Finley Pickard (Harrogate, England), dynamic midfielders Carlos Bermudez Roa (Pozuelo de Alarcon, Spain), and Jordi Cabau Limens (Cubelles, Spain), as well as talented forwards Cai Pritchard (Brighton, England) and Oscar Berntsson (Landvetter, Sweden) who will all look to make their mark when Husson kicks off their trek to the NAC championship tournament with a non-conference match on August 30th at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

 
   

T4. SUNY DELHI - 51 pts.

New to the NAC this fall, SUNY Delhi enters the league coming off a 13-2-1 season in the American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA). The Broncos were unbeaten in their final 11 matches in 2018, and reached the ACAA Conference Finals. Third-year head coach Brian Mitko returns offensive threats USCAA All-American and All-ACAA Second Team player Brody Rettle (Staten Island, N.Y.), and All-ACAA Second Team selection Matthew Cassidy (Bayshore, N.Y.). Delhi hits the pitch on August 30 at SUNY Potsdam.

 
   

T4. SUNY CANTON - 51 pts.

The Roos enter their second season in the NAC under veteran head coach Tim Penrod. The Roos, who reached the NAC Championship match a season ago,  return 7 of their top 10 scorers to the pitch this season. Brett Anderson (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) finished with four goals and three assists in 2018, while Conner Morse (Chazy, N.Y.) tallied four goals, and Kevin Velasquez (Patchogue, N.Y.) produced a team-high seven assists. Coach Penrod also expects key contributions from returners Kingsley Owusu (Accra, Ghana), Justin Gardner (Dix Hills, N.Y.), and Will Austin (Broadalbin, N.Y.). Newcomer Jacob Deuel (Endwell, N.Y.) is expected to make an impact right away, with the season getting under way August 30 at Wells.

 
   

6. NVU-JOHNSON - 40 pts.

Head Coach Shane Bufano enters his third year at the helm of the men's soccer program at NVU-Johnson. The Badgers finished the 2018 season with a 10-7 record overall and a conference record of 4-3. Ten wins set a new record for NVU-Johnson in the NCAA era, and the 2018 season was capped off by a NAC playoff appearance for the first time since 2010. The Badgers return two First Team All-Conference selections in Daniel Arriola (Romeoville, Ill.) and Robert Buonanno (Walcott, Vt.) and eleven players total. The Badgers also welcome thirteen new players that will fight to make an impact right away, with the first match August 30 against Fisher in the NVU Invitational at Lyndon.

 
   

7. UMAINE-FARMINGTON - 31 pts.

Blake Hart takes over in his first year as head coach for the Beavers (5-12, 2-5 NAC) after serving as an assistant coach last year. Players to watch on the 2019 roster include returners Andrew Longhurst (Middletown, Del.) and Jake Hemlich (Berlin, Conn.) up front, and defenders Silas Mohlar (Readfield, Maine), and Kesuma Laizer (Monduli, Tanzania). Key newcomers include Aric Belanger, Jacob Statires, Eric McCallum, and Simon Spear. Coach Hart is excited about the competitive environment created by talented veterans and fresh faces, and aims to return to the NAC championship tournament. The first test will be at home against Albertus Magnus on August 30.

 
   

8. NVU-LYNDON - 16 pts.

Rob Carey returns for his fifth season as head coach at NVU-Lyndon. The 2019 Hornets are a young and hungry team with many fresh new faces as they look to improve upon a 2018 campaign that saw them finish 1-14 overall and 1-6 in the NAC. Top returnees include senior midfielder Sam Ognenoff (Brattleboro, Vt.) and junior goalkeeper Caleb Derbyshire (Barton, Vt.). Promising newcomers include freshman defender Alex Bryant (Topsham, Maine), freshman midfielder Garrick Webster (Terryville, Conn.), and senior Chris Trifilio (Williston, Vt.). The Hornets will host the NVU Invitational to kick-off the year, meeting in-state rival Vermont Tech for the first matchup on August 30.

 
   

9. UMAINE-PRESQUE ISLE - 12 pts.

Veteran head coach Alan Gordon is optimistic about his growing squad. Led by key returners, sophomore striker Andre Rosignol (Van Buren, Maine), junior defender Paul Kaplan (Embden, Maine) and senior midfielder Chad Bartlett (Bradley, Maine), the Owls (4-12-1, 0-7) are on the hunt for the NAC championship. The roster includes 15 newcomers who show a lot of promise for the 2019 season. UMPI heads to Vermont Tech on September 2 to open the 2019 season.