ROCHESTER, NY – Stevens Institute of Technology was picked to repeat as men’s soccer champions as the Ducks received six first place votes on the way to a maximum 36 points and the top position in the 2013 Empire 8 Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll. Stevens is six points clear of second place Ithaca College, which received the remaining top nod. Utica College rounds out the top three with 21 points in the annual coaches’ survey (full poll results below).
Stevens enters the 2013 campaign following the program’s sixth straight Empire 8 title and making their 12th straight NCAA Championship appearance. The Ducks posted a nine-game shutout streak that lasted over 1,000 minutes before the University of Scranton pulled a 1-0 upset in the Round of 16.
Stevens welcomes back seven all-conference players from the squad that finished 2012 ranked 10th in the country by the NSCAA. Included in that list of returning players is goalkeeper Paul Killian, who was named the National Goalkeeper of the Year by D3Soccer.com, first team All-East Region and first team All-conference.
He started all 22 games, allowing seven goals for a 0.33 goals against average. Killian will have ample help on the defensive line, as he is joined by Leonardo Casas, D3Soccer.com second team All-America selection, junior Zeke Hemme and sophomore Harrison Kane. The offense will be led by senior forward Stephen Dunbar (9g, 3a) and senior midfielder Curtis Stecyk (5g, 1a).
The Bombers were co-champions of the Empire 8 after a 0-0 tie in the conference title game against Stevens. The strength of Ithaca’s squad begins with returning Kenny Chapman between the posts.
In his rookie campaign Chapman ranked 17th in the nation in save percentage (0.86) and 21st in goals against average at 0.61. He was part of seven shutouts on the year, including five solo shutouts.
Utica has finished fifth in the conference the past two seasons, barely missing out on the coveted Empire 8 Conference Tournament, but the coaches feel 2013 could be the year that all changes as the Pioneers are ranked third in the poll. UC went 7-1-2 on its home turf and lost six games by just one goal in 2012. Senior forward Kevin McAllister is the lone all-conference returner and led the team with 22 points (9g, 4a).
Elmira completed one of its most successful season’s in program history in 2012 as it tied the school record for wins in a season with 13. Keith Moore will look to continue that success as he takes over the head coaching reigns after spending the past two seasons at Keystone College.
The Soaring Eagles return All-East Region Third Team standout Andre Germano, who amassed 27 points (12g, 3a). All-Conference forward Ernesto Valverde (8g, 5 a) and defender Matthew Feldman also return for Elmira.
St. John Fisher and reigning E8 Coach of the Year, Rob Searl, surprised everyone last year with a 10-5-3 record an a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament after two-straight years with three wins.
The Cardinals hope to stay on the winning side of things with three all-conference performers in tow. Forward Jake Quattrini led Fisher in both goals (7) and points (15) to earn a spot on the second team and was joined by Kyle Metcalfe, who was one of the top goalies in the league and nation. Metcalfe’s save percentage (.866) was second in the conference and 15th in the nation. Midfielder John Tomko earned third team honors in 2012 behind a four point season total.
Nazareth looks to rebound from its first sub-.500 record since 2008 with three of its all-conference athlete’s back to bolster a program that has won three men’s soccer championships.
First team midfielder, senior James Wheeler led the squad in scoring with 27 points (10g, 7a). Wheeler is joined by senior midfielder Ryan Foley (4g, 6a) and senior forward Luke Elston (9g, 3a); both second team choices a year ago.
Alfred won four of its last six games in 2012 to finish 6-12 on the season and will be looking to make strides toward a post-season berth. However, graduation may play a factor in the offensive output as seniors scored 17 of the 30 goals. Jeffrey Thomas, a second-team All-conference selection, returns to the midfield for the Saxons and will be looked upon to continue his scoring efforts from a year ago (6g, 2a).
The 2013 season marks the second year of inclusion for Houghton College as a competing Empire 8 program. The Highlanders are not eligible for post-season play (and therefore were not ranked in the poll) but will complete a full league schedule. However, games against Houghton will not factor into the standings.
Houghton finished 9-6-4 in its first season as a provisional NCAA Division III member, including a 3-2-2 record against Empire 8 teams. Jared Toth (5g, 2a) was named to the All-Conference first team, while defender John Carpenter and forward Paul Seddon (3g, 3a) were honorable mention selections.
Dates to remember
Empire 8 men’s soccer fans don’t have long to wait to see their favorite teams in action. The 2013 season officially begins on Friday, August 30 with six teams taking the field for nonconference contests.
Conference play begins Saturday, Sept. 21, and this year’s playoff schedule features two semifinal matches on Wednesday, Nov. 6, and the championship on Saturday, Nov. 9 with the high seed hosting each contest.
If you can’t make it out to the game be sure to check if Live Stats are available or better yet the game may be web streamed courtesy of EzStream. Be sure to check out the schedule of streamed events by visiting empire8.tv. The Empire 8 scoreboard will have the latest schedule and results as well as media coverage links.
A closer look
For more information, visit any of the participating schools’ websites or go to the Empire 8 home on the Internet at www.empire8.com. Don’t forget to become a fan of the Empire 8 on Facebookand follow @Empire8 on Twitter.
2013 Empire 8 Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll
|Stevens Institute of Technology (6 first place votes)||36 points|
|Ithaca College (1 first place vote)||30|
|St. John Fisher College||19|