Men's Division I Conference Previews: Pt. 2
What happened in 2017: Two programs from the Ivy League made it to the NCAA tournament, as both Dartmouth and Columbia earned spots in postseason play. The Big Green won the regular season title, finishing on 19 points, three ahead of Columbia as the two sides ran away at the summit.
What to expect in 2018: Dartmouth has a new head coach this season, after Chad Riley took over at Notre Dame at start of the year. Bo Oshoniyi is the man in charge in Hanover now, moving from East Tennessee State. That shouldn’t have a huge impact on the race, as it should still boil down to Dartmouth and Columbia. Both programs have plenty coming back and big holes to fill. Below them, Brown brings back Jack Hagstrom, though loses other All-Ivy Performers from last year’s class.
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Players to Know: M John Denis (Columbia), D Jack Hagstrom (Brown), M Justin Donawa (Dartmouth), M Vana Markarian (Columbia), M/F Jeremy Colvin (Princeton), F Jake Kohlbrenner (Pennsylvania(m)), F Kyle Kenagy (Yale), GK Chris Palacios (Dartmouth), F Eduvie Ikoba (Dartmouth), D Blake Willis (Columbia), D Richard Wolf (Princeton)
What happened in 2017: Fairfield swept the regular season and conference tournament titles in a competitive league. Rider, Canisius, Manhattan, Quinnipiac and Iona College(m) rounded out the top six.
What to expect in 2018: Another close race should be on the cards, whether it’s Fairfield defending its crown, Canisius emerging as the first-place side or Rider among the top teams. Quinnipiac, Manhattan, Marist or Monmouth have intriguing talent, depending on how things come together and newcomers mesh will dictate how the season plays out.
Players to Know: F Troy Brady (Canisius), D Conor McCoy (Quinnipiac), D Sylvain (Rider), M Elliot Otmani (Rider), GK Marcellin Gohier (Manhattan), F Filippo Tamburini (Canisius), D Alex Grattarola (Canisius), F Allen Gavilanes (Marist), M Melvin Blair (Canisius), M John Antunes (Monmouth), M Emmanuel Kouma (Rider)
What happened in 2017: A strong group of seniors led Western Michigan to the regular season title, knocking Akron off its annual perch. The Broncos went 5-0 in league play, but the Zips had final say, winning the conference final by a 3-1 score against Western Michigan. Both teams showed well in the NCAA tournament, with Akron making it to the College Cup and Western Michigan to the Third Round.
What to expect in 2018: Western Michigan lost a big chunk of last year’s successful squad. Akron, in the same vein, brought in several newcomers, both freshmen and transfers, in an attempt to keep the squad at a high level. Can another squad burst its way into the top spot? West Virginia brings back midfielder Joey Piatczyc, who missed last fall with an injury, and could be ready to pounce. SIUE’s a program that has enjoyed success in previous campaigns.
Players to Know: GK Ben Lundt (Akron), F Christopher Brennan (Bowling Green), M Jorge Gonzalez (SIUE), M Jake Rufe (Western Michigan), D Pascal Derwaritsch (West Virginia), D Johan DePicker (SIUE), M Abdi Mohamed (Akron), M Tommy Clark (Western Michigan), F David Egbo (Akron), M Kosti Moni (Western Michigan), D Daniel Strachan (Akron), D Ben Thornton (Western Michigan), F Tate Robertson (Bowling Green)
What happened in 2017: Missouri State’s defense-first approach led to regular season dividends, as the program won the regular season title despite scoring nine goals in eight conference games. On the other side, Central Arkansas scored 16, but conceded 14 goals to come in second place. The latter approach led UCA to the NCAA tournament, by way of winning the MVC tournament.
What to expect in 2018: Eight starters are back in the mix for Missouri State, and with 93 percent of its goals back, including Conor Ingram, seem likely to make another run at a conference title.
Players to Know: F Niklas Brodacki (Central Arkansas), D Grant Stoneman (Loyola-Chicago), F Roman Schindler (Bradley), D Rafael Mentzingen (Valparaiso), M Leroy Enzuguzi (Drake), D Simon Weaver (Evansville), F Conor Ingram (Missouri State), M Aidan Megally (Loyola-Chicago), D Ben Stroud (Missouri State)
What happened in 2017: The dominance of St. Francis Brooklyn continued last fall, as the program won its second straight crown and fourth in the last five seasons. They held serve in the conference tournament, advancing to the NCAA tournament where they lost 3-2 in overtime against Fordham.
What to expect in 2018: St. Francis Brooklyn’s roster is anchored by several European players that helps the program sustain its high level. Among the returnees are Ali Tounkara and Matteo Caribotti. Chasing SFU will be LIU Brooklyn(m), title-winners in 2015. They are led by reigning NEC Player of the Year Rasmus Hansen and defender Filip Nordstrom. Fairleigh Dickinson’s group has the makings of a contender, whether its sophomore forward Jacob Labovitz or senior Ahu Obhakan. St. Francis (PA)(m) enter the season with a new head coach, as Frank Olszewski took charge of the program, while Mount St. Mary’s(m) revived its men’s soccer program for the upcoming season.
Players to Know: F Rasmus Hansen (LIU Brooklyn(m)), F Jacob Labovitz (Fairleigh Dickinson), F Mario Mastrangelo (Saint Francis (PA)(m)), M Ahu Obhakhan (Fairleigh Dickinson), D Filip Nordstrom (LIU Brooklyn(m)), F Louis Beddouri (Central Connecticut), M Daniel Lasarte (Fairleigh Dickinson), F Matteo Caribotti (St. Francis Brooklyn)
What happened in 2017: After winning the Patriot League by two points, Loyola (MD) couldn’t close out the automatic bid in the conference tournament. Instead, sixth-place Colgate spun together the results to not only win the Patriot League, but also make the Third Round of the NCAA tournament.
What to expect in 2018: On paper, another close race between Loyola (MD) and Boston University (second place finishers last year) seems likely. Bucknell, Lehigh, Holy Cross and even Colgate could certainly step into the mix as well.
Players to Know: F Matt Thorsheim (Bucknell), F Mark Forrest (Lehigh), F Josh Fawole (Loyola (MD)), F Brian Saramago (Loyola (MD)), M Toti Knutsson (Boston University), M Barry Sharifi (Loyola (MD)), D Aram Ouligian (Colgate), F Keenan O'Shea (Army), GK Chase Vosvick (Loyola (MD))
What happened in 2017: East Tennessee State emerged as winners of the regular season championship, three points ahead of UNC Greensboro. Furman finished four points off the pace, with Mercer in fourth. Mercer managed to put together a run at the right time, winning the Southern Conference tournament championship.
What to expect in 2018: With ETSU head coach Bo Oshoniyi heading north to Dartmouth, there’s a new coach on last year’s defending champions. David Casper, an assistant coach at Kentucky, was tabbed as Oshoniyi’s replacement. That’s not the only new face in the conference, as Belmont is a new addition this year, bumping the number of teams to seven. Depending on how Casper adjusts, UNC Greensboro and Furman should be near the top, though ETSU and Mercer won’t be far behind.
Players to Know: F Cole McLagan (Fuman(m)), M Leeroy Maguroushe (UNC Greensboro), M Laurence Wyke (Furman), F Lucas Altman (Wofford), D Jake Mezei (Mercer), GK Jon Milligan (UNC Greensboro), D Dalton Souder (Furman), M Danny Kierath (Furman), M Cameron Woodfin (East Tennessee State), F Nelson Oceano (UNC Greensboro), M Josiah Baker (Furman), D Joseph Pickering (East Tennessee State)
What happened in 2017: A College Cup side in 2016, Denver managed another Summit League regular season crown a year ago. But NCAA tournament play eluded them when Omaha topped Denver on penalty kicks in the conference tournament, bumping the Pioneers from the postseason.
What to expect in 2018: It wouldn’t be surprising to see Denver near the top of the standings once again, especially after Jason Mims left Omaha to pursue a spot with Real Salt Lake’s Academy. The Pioneers have added an impressive recruiting class to go with returning players like Andre Shinyashiki.
Players to Know: F Andre Shinyashiki (Denver), M Cole Nelson (Omaha), M Moshe Perez (Denver), M Edgar Mesa (Eastern Illinois), D Seth Rinderknecht (Omaha), F Junior Chavez (Oral Roberts), M Steve Siy (Omaha), M Zach Tom (IPFW(m)), M Drew Whalen (Western Illinois)
What happened in 2017: Since joining the conference, Coastal Carolina has enjoyed a run atop the standings, winning the last three regular season titles and two straight conference tournaments. Last year, the Chanticleers edged Georgia State by two points.
What to expect in 2018: Hartwick’s move to Division III means that the Sun Belt is down to five teams ahead of a new season. Coastal Carolina enter the season as favorites, with the combination of experience and quality returning. It should be a relatively close race, however. Georgia State and Georgia Southern have the right pieces and players to make a run at it, while Appalachian State is a team that is only going to get better.
Players to Know: F Yazeed Matthews (Coastal Carolina), M Max Hemmings (Georgia State), GK Carlos Caro (Howard), F Juan Hernandez (Appalachian State), F Javier Carbonell (Georgia Southern), M Saif Alhameli (Coastal Carolina), D Aldair Cortes (Georgia Southern), D Kervin Fadel (Coastal Carolina), GK Jake Chasteen (Appalachian State), M Hannes Burmeister (Georgia State)
What happened in 2017: In a competitive 2017 season, San Francisco nabbed the regular season title and NCAA tournament spot that came with it. Pacific, which snatched an at-large bid for the tournament, came in second place, followed by Portland and Saint Mary’s (CA)(m).
What to expect in 2018: Preseason polling is far from guaranteed. But the 2018 edition shows that the coaches in the WCC expect a very close contest from the top five teams. From an individual talent perspective, Pacific holds a slight edge over Portland. That being said, San Francisco has the experience of winning last season, San Diego has some up-and-coming talent that could surprise, while St. Mary's (CA)
Players to Know: F Miguel Berry (San Diego), M Sean Bowman (San Francisco), F Tariq Branche (Pacific), M Santiago Digiuseppe (San Francisco), D Aaron Frey (San Diego), F Benji Michel (Portland), M Camden Riley (Pacific), F Jake Rudel (St. Mary's (CA)), D Wouter Verstraaten (Pacific), M Rey Ortiz (Portland), D Henry Lander (San Diego)
What happened in 2017: A tremendous campaign for Air Force saw the program go undefeated to win the regular season title. Seattle, which has turned itself into a perennial contender in the conference, won the conference tournament.
What to expect in 2018: Either Seattle or Air Force looks primed to make a run at the top of the standings. However, the pieces that UNLV and San Jose State bring back for this season could prove to be difference makers. With a total of 11 teams in the conference, can’t count out a run by Grand Canyon, Cal State Bakersfield(m) or Utah Valley.
Players to Know: F Tucker Bone (Air Force), F Marco Gonzalez (UNLV), M Josh Drack (Grand Canyon), M Timo Mehlich (UNLV), GK Josh Adachi (Seattle), D Andy Rios (San Jose State), M Sergio Rivas (Seattle), D Adam Musovski (UNLV), F Austin Dewing (Air Force), D Nathan Aune (Seattle), D Anthony Ayala (Seattle)
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