FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Mary Washington sits unanimously atop the rankings in the 2019 Capital Athletic Conference Men's Soccer Preseason Poll. The Eagles finished the 2018 season as both the conference regular season and tournament champions.
Mary Washington, which captured its second-straight CAC title last fall, collected five first-place votes and 25 points to lead the poll. St. Mary's nabbed the final first-place vote and 18 points to finish second in the rankings.
Christopher Newport (16 points), Salisbury (14 points), York (12 points), and Southern Virginia (5 points) placed third through sixth, respectively, in a vote among the conference head coaches.
The 2019 season kicks off on Friday, Aug. 30 with all six CAC teams in action. CAC play begins Sept. 28 and runs through October, with the CAC Championship game slated for Saturday, Nov. 9.
2019 CAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|1.||Mary Washington||25 (5)|
|2.||St. Mary's||18 (1)|
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2019 campaign:
MARY WASHINGTON will be vying to win their third straight CAC Championship this season. Head coach Jason Kilby loses some key players to graduation, but brings back six starters with a wealth of experience. Back in goal for UMW this year is first team All-CAC selection, Ken Kurtz. Kurtz ranked second in the country in save percentage as he made 80 saves while only giving up eight goals. Jacob Lovinger, Ben Ahrens, and Noah Mazzatenta all return in the midfield for the Eagles. Idrissa Barrie and Jeremy Hokenson will look to put the ball in the back of the net and provide scoring opportunities for UMW. Senior Lucas Turney will play a crucial role on the defensive side of the ball.
ST. MARY'S boasts a talented returning group of student-athletes to their roster for the 2019 season and look to build off a successful 2018 campaign. The Seahawks return 10 starters from last season's squad, which includes one All-CAC Second Team selection, three All-CAC First Team selections, one All-Region selection and one All-American. Andrew Kalinoski is the Seahawks' lone returning All-CAC Second Team selection, while Khalid Balogun, Josh McRobie, and Roshawn Panton are returning All-CAC First Team selections. Balogun capped off his impressive junior campaign by collecting All-Region and All-American honors. Balogun led the conference in all offensive categories with 12 goals, seven assists, 31 points, and 72 shots.
CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT begins the new season under first-year head coach Justin Chezem following the retirement of Steve Shaw. The Captains welcome back a pair of all-conference performers, including the reigning CAC Rookie of the Year in sophomore midfielder Tanner Dail and senior defender Derek Cook. The CNU defense allowed just 16 goals in 16 games this season for a goals-against average of 0.97. CNU allowed only three goals to be scored in the first half this season and all eight of their losses came by just one goal. Cook added to the offensive side of the ball as swell, chipping in three goals for six points in his junior campaign.
SALISBURY looks build off their second consecutive appearance in the CAC Championship Tournament. The Sea Gulls return two All-CAC performers from 2018, including All-South Region defender Alex Eiben and first team All-CAC midfielder Ryan Spadin. The Salisbury defense posted nine shutouts and held teams to one goal twice in 2018 and return Eiben, senior Trent Hofmeister and junior Kyle Munson. Along with Spadin, the offense will lean on senior forward Stephen White and junior forward Kevin Eriksen who combined for 23 points and 10 goals last season.
YORK enters the 2019 with high expectations after the Spartans captured 10 wins last fall. Head coach Evan Scheffey welcomes back nine seniors, ten starters and 21 letter winners from last year's squad. Senior Brook Addisu headlines the returners as he was a first-team All-CAC and All-Regional selection as a defender last year. Addisu spearheads a strong defensive unit that features four returning starters. Those defenders will be in front of two-year starter Billy Bridegum in goal. Bridegum posted a 0.96 goals against average last year as he had 66 saves and three clean sheets. Offensively, second-team All-CAC picks Keith Witherell and Zion Friday along with Isiah Dorsey lead the way for the Green and White. York returns nine of their ten top scorers from last year.
With a new coach at the helm, Coach Rob Dahl and the SOUTHERN VIRGINIA Knights look to change the identity of the team compared to previous years. Along with six returning starters, Southern Virginia University will rely on the help of the talented incoming freshman class to win more games. The Knights are looking to exceed expectations from last year and hope to make a run in conference play.