America East, Atlantic Sun men’s previews
Conference Tournament Champion: UMBC
Striker of the Year: Kay Banjo, UMBC
Midfielder of the Year: Mamadou Kansaye, UMBC
Defender of the Year: Oumar Ballo, UMBC
Goalkeeper of the Year: Robert Moewes, Binghamton
Co-Rookies of the Year: Afonso Pinheiro, Albany & Austin Kroll, Massachusetts-Lowell
Coaching Staff of the Year: UMBC, (Head Coach, Pete Caringi, Jr.)
Teams (2014 overall, conference record):
UMBC (14-6-5, 6-0-1)
Hartford (11-6-2, 5-2)
Massachusetts-Lowell (8-9-1, 4-2-1)
Binghamton (5-14-1, 3-4)
Vermont (8-9-2, 2-4-1)
Albany (4-9-6, 2-4-1)
New Hampshire (6-10-1, 2-5)
Stony Brook (4-13-2, 2-5)
The rise of UMBC on the national stage came to the fore last season with its College Cup run. A repeat performance is sure to be a huge task for a side that lost a total of six seniors from the America East First and Second All Conference Teams and eight starters overall. Goalkeeper Billy Heavner is one of the big pieces who will return, and it might not be as much of a drop off, as the retrievers do have an eight-player senior class waiting in the wings to step up and contribute.
If UMBC does endure an adjustment period this season, it could open the door up for a side like Hartford. Five all-conference selections are back in the fold for the Hawsk, including Javoni Simms and defender Jhamie Hyde.
Optimism reigns for Vermont after checking in third place in the preseason polling. Leading scorer Brian Wright bagged nine goals in 2014, and if he’s in firing form things could really look up for the Catamounts this season.
Looking to build upon an impressive performance from last season is Massachusetts-Lowell, a program relatively new to the Division I ranks. The NSCAA tabbed Wuilito Fernandes to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List.
Conference Tournament Champion: Florida Gulf Coast(m)
Player of the Year: Marvin Schmiege, USC Upstate
Defensive Player of the Year: Luke Gearin, Lipscomb
Goalkeeper of the Year: Kyle Nasta, North Florida
Freshman of the Year: Ivan Alvarado, Lipscomb
Coach of the Year: Ernie Yarborough, Stetson
Although they were selected as the preseason favorites to win the Atlantic Sun, the rest of the conference has closed the gap somewhat on Florida Gulf Coast(m). Lipscomb finished tied for the regular season crown, while Stetson and North Florida both look like they could be competitive this fall.
FGCU brings back a number of talented players, hence the preseason designation. Their spine is certainly high quality, with goalkeeper Nathan Ingham, defender Aaron Guillen, midfielder Rodrigo Saravia and forward Abert Ruiz gives a very strong base to build on.
Perhaps lurking closest as challengers is North Florida. Like the Eagles, the returning talent is significant, including senior goalkeeper Kyle Nasta, defender Jay Bolt and midfielder Alex Morrell.
After sharing the regular season A-Sun title last year, Lipscomb’s encore should be an interesting one. There’s no shortage back on this front either, as Matt Kerridge and the 2014 Freshman of the Year Ivan Alvarado are two of the team’s key pieces for the upcoming campaign.
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