FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Christopher Newport edged out Mary Washington by one point to earn the title of preseason favorite in the 2018 Capital Athletic Conference Men's Soccer Preseason Poll. The Captains, who finished the 2017 season as the regular season champion and tournament runner-up, secured three first-place votes and totaled 45 points to take the top spot in the voting.
Mary Washington, which captured its first CAC title since 2001 last fall, collected three first-place votes and 44 points to place second in the poll by the narrowist of margins. St. Mary's also nabbed a pair of first-place votes, taking third place in the preseason rankings with 39 total points.
York (30 points), Salisbury (27 points), Frostburg State (18 points), Penn State Harrisburg (14 points) and Southern Virginia (7 points) placed fourth through eighth, respectively, in a vote among the conference head coaches.
The CAC Tournament will feature a new format this fall, with all eight teams qualifying for the postseason.
The 2018 season kicks off on Friday, Aug. 31 with seven CAC teams in action. CAC play begins Sept. 29 and runs through October, with the CAC Championship game slated for Saturday, Nov. 3.
2018 CAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|1.||Christopher Newport||45 (3)|
|2.||Mary Washington||44 (3)|
|3.||St. Mary's||39 (2)|
|7.||Penn State Harrisburg||14|
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2018 campaign:
Despite the loss of two-time CAC Player of the Year Jimmy Grace, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT hopes to defend the CAC regular season championship after an unbeaten record last fall. Led by a senior class of 11, including a pair of USC All-Region selections, the Captains will face a grueling schedule that includes just seven home contests this year. Defensively, Bobby Seifert will look to cap an exceptional career on the back line anchoring a strong unit in front of senior goalkeeper Zach Pedini. Offensively, Stephen Durbin is a two-time All-Region pick after scoring 27 points on 12 goals and three assists. The starting lineup will return seven on the pitch this season, with seniors Daniel Zeitoun and Andrew Maeso adding to the list of veterans back for their final season.
FROSTBURG STATE returns four starters to mix with a slew newcomers. The Bobcats recorded five shutouts over the course of last season, good for fifth in the CAC. Senior defender Brett Basham leads the roster with 58 career starts and was an All-CAC second team honoree in 2016.
MARY WASHINGTON is going into 2018 with high expectations after winning their first CAC Championship since 2001 last season. The Eagles return nine of their starters, which include top goal scorers and All-CAC performers Justin Carey, Jeremy Hokenson, and Ryan Van Maanen. UMW will lean on Gary Foley, Will Donohoe, Conor Macmurdy, and Lucas Turney to anchor the defense. Ben Ahrens and Gabriel Soriano will look to hold down the midfield.
PENN STATE HARRISBURG, led by third-year head coach Daniel Krzyzanowicz, is optimistic about this season returning 24 players from last season’s team. In goal the Lions return Hunter Cooper who was fourth in the CAC in goals against average in 2017. The Lions also return senior midfielder Ethan Hoover who is 10th in school history in career points.
ST. MARY'S posted an 11-win campaign last fall with a program-best seven league wins en route to its second straight 10-win season. The Seahawks welcome back just four starters but eighth-year head coach Alun Oliver '04 will be able to count on a deep, talented bench comprised of a strong veteran group and nine impactful rookies. The return of All-American Juwan Kearson '19 in the midfield and two-time All-Region selection Khalid Balogun '20 upfront will be key in leading the team in a deep run in the CAC Tournament.
SALISBURY looks to make a return trip to the CAC playoffs in head coach Alex Hargrove’s third season. The Sea Gulls look to do so with a young core that showed plenty of promise in the 2017 campaign. Senior Trevor Brookhart returns for his second season in net after leading the Sea Gulls to one of the stingiest defenses in the conference with a 0.99 goals-against average. Brookhart will rely on junior Alex Eiben to lead the new backline after losing three starting defenders to graduation. Offensively, the maroon and gold will look for their young attack to take another step forward in 2018. Underclassmen accounted for 63 percent of the goals last season, led by junior Stephen White’s four markers. Junior Ryan Spadin will man the midfield after tallying three goals and three assists in the 2017 campaign. Sophomore Beau Johnson will join Spadin after logging quality minutes during his freshman season.
With a large number of new players, SOUTHERN VIRGINIA will look to their returning core. The Knights return five starters, each receiving heavy playing time in 2017. The Knights hope to turn heads improving from last season.
YORK enters the 2018 campaign with high expectations after a season in which the Spartans ended strong, earning first round CAC tournament home game. Head coach Evan Scheffey welcomes back five of their top seven scorers including All-CAC second-team selection Zion Friday. York returns junior All-CAC defender Brook Addisu who will make the move to the midfield this season. The defensive third will be well covered for the Green and White. Junior captain Marc Murgo will headline a group that is young but very talented. Sophomore Billy Bridegum saw a majority of time in goal last year and heads into the campaign as the starter for the Spartans.