MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Mitchell College was selected as the top team in the 2018 New England Collegiate Conference Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll on Friday.
The Mariners, who captured their first NECC title in 2017, collected a total of 74 points and received three first-place votes. Dean College also received three first-place votes and came in second with 60 points while New England College rounded out the top three with 57 points.
Led by 2017 NECC Coach of the Year Damian Houlden, Mitchell will return several key contributors from last year's championship team. First team all-conference defenders TJ Condon and William Ferguson anchor a defense that allowed only seven goals in conference play a year ago, and starting goalkeeper Seth Strader returns for his third season between the pipes.
Dean will be under the direction of first-year head coach Joseph Campbell, who inherits a squad that took home a share of the regular season title in 2017. Returning for the Bulldogs is NECC Rookie of the Year all-conference first teamer Felipe Campos, who scored 11 goals in seven conference matches as a rookie. Overall, Campos tallied 18 goals and led NCAA Division III at 1.29 goals per game.
New England College, a newcomer in the NECC, is coming off a season in which it finished 6-2-1 in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC). Led by head coach Dave DeCew, the Pilgrims return All-NAC midfielder Cooper Valinski and defender Carter Adams. Valinski was second in the NAC with 13 goals while Adams was a commanding presence on a Pilgrim defense that allowed only 1.71 goals per game.
Elms College was voted into the fourth slot, with a total of 54 points and one first-place vote. Led by head coach Mike Wysocki, the Blazers return 2017 NECC Player of the Year Babba Jaden to the pitch. Jaden netted 14 goals and added two assists for a total of 30 points last season, leading the Blazers to a 5-2-0 conference record.
Coming in right behind Elms was Lesley University with 51 points, as well as the remaining first-place selection. The Lynx, led by head coach Jim Costa, return a pair of all-conference second team honorees in midfielder Jack Wadleigh and defender Ben Heischuber. Lesley finished second in the league a season ago in goals against and goals-against average, with 29 and 1.56, respectively.
Newbury College (34), Southern Vermont College (33), Eastern Nazarene College (22) and Becker College (16) round out the 2018 NECC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll.
2018 NECC Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Mitchell - 74 (3)
2. Dean - 60 (3)
3. New England - 57 (1)
4. Elms - 54 (1)
5. Lesley - 51 (1)
6. Newbury - 34
7. Southern Vermont - 33
8. Eastern Nazarene - 22
9. Becker - 16