Eastern Connecticut chosen as preseason favorite; PSU fourth
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – For the sixth-straight season, the Little East Conference men's soccer coaches have chosen Eastern Connecticut State University as the frontrunner to capture the conference championship. The Warriors have been the consensus choice of the eight conference coaches' four times, while sharing top billing with Keene State College in 2008 and 2010.
Eastern Connecticut received four first-place votes and 60 total points to sit atop the annual preseason survey. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was selected first on two coaches' ballots to place second with 52 markers, one point ahead of Keene State. Plymouth State University and Rhode Island College shared the fourth position with 32 total points.
Under the watchful eye of Greg DeVito, the Warriors have enjoyed the program's longest sustained period of success in terms of wins, boasting six consecutive campaigns with double digits victories. A year ago, Eastern Connecticut posted an overall record of 17-2-1, including a 6-0-1 mark inside the conference circuit. The Warriors opened their 2012 schedule with a 15-match unbeaten streak, sporting a 14-0-1 record. Eastern Connecticut earned the top-seed in the Little East Men's Soccer tournament, but needed double overtime to shake a pesky Panther squad, 2-1. DeVito led his charges to their second straight and fourth overall tournament championship with a decisive 3-1 victory over the third-seeded Corsairs. The Warriors earned the conference's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Championship, marking the program's fourth-straight appearance in the national field.
DeVito will welcome 12 student-athletes, including seven starters, back into the fold from the 2012 squad. An All-Little East, first-team pick, senior Mitch Power (Douglas, Mass.) is Eastern Connecticut's top-returning scoring threat after producing 19 points last fall. Power led the Warriors in game-winning goals (6) and was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 Little East Men's Soccer Championship. Eastern Connecticut will face Widener in its 2013 debut at the Swarthmore College Invitational at 5 p.m. on August 31.
UMass Dartmouth has placed second in the preseason coaches' poll for the second-straight season and third time in program history. In 2012, the Corsairs registered an overall record of 12-7, including matching the program's record for conference wins with a 5-2 mark. Head Coach Henry Almeida, the 2012 Little East Coach of the Year, proved the prognosticators correct when he led his charges to an upset victory at second-seeded Keene State in the semifinals of the Little East Championship.
Almeida will return seven starters and 11 players from his 2012 roster, including a pair of 2012 All-Little East, first-team recipients in Victor Ferreira (New Bedford, Mass.) and Adam Philbin (Cumberland, R.I.). Last fall, Ferreira paced the Corsairs in goals (8), assists (8), and points (24), while Philbin ranked second in markers (5) and total points (11). UMass Dartmouth will kick off its 2013 schedule at 7 p.m. on Sept. 4, when the Corsairs host Salem State University.
The Little East will sponsor a round-robin conference schedule with each team meeting each other once in the regular-season. The top-four teams in the final regular-season standings advance to the 2013 Little East Men's Soccer Championship with the two highest seeds earning home field advantage in the semifinal round on Wednesday, November 6. The Little East championship match is scheduled for Saturday, November 9 at the highest remaining seed. The conference champion will earn the automatic qualifier into the 2013 NCAA Division III Championship.
Completing the preseason coaches' poll in projected order of finish in the final regular-season standings are University of Southern Maine (24), University of Massachusetts Boston (23), and Western Connecticut State University (13), respectively.
Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes. Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.
2013 Little East Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Rank||Institution||1st Place||Total Points|
|Rhode Island College||32|
(Courtesy of the Little East Conference)
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