MANSFIELD, MASS. – Mitchell College topped the 2019 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll, collecting 29 points, along with four first place votes. The Mariners, led by fifth-year head coach Damian Houlden, have reached the NECC Championship match in back-to-back seasons. They will return several key contributors, including first Team All-NECC performers Christian Urena (Griswold, Conn.) and William Ferguson (Old Lyme, Conn.). Ferguson shored up a Mariner defense that only allowed eight goals in 2018 conference play, while also netting five goals. Urena chipped in on the offensive end with two goals and two assists.
Finishing second in the polls with 26 points, and two first place votes, is New England College. The Pilgrims will be under new leadership, as Gerard Miniaci will take the reigns. New England College will return two All-NECC performers to their defense, Carter Adams (Lebanon, N.H) and Jackson Easter (Weare, N.H.). Adams and Easter led a Pilgrim defense that allowed only six conference goals in their first season in the NECC, which was good for second in the NECC. Their 0.72 goals-against average was also second in the league.
Landing in third with 19 points is Eastern Nazarene College. Led by fourth-year head coach Mark Bell, the Lions will return eight starters from a season ago, including first team All-NECC performer Edmilson Centeio (New Bedford, Mass.). Centeio led the Lions with four goals, while also tacking on an assist, as the Lions reached NECC postseason play in their first season in the NECC.
Elms College was voted into the fourth slot, with a total of 17 points. Led by head coach Mike Wysocki, the Blazers will return the 2017 NECC Player of the Year, and 2018 first team All-NECC honoree Babba Jaden (Clarkston, Ga.) to the pitch. Jaden netted a league-high nine goals and totaled 20 points last season.
Coming in right behind Elms is Lesley University, with 15 points. The Lynx, led by head coach Jim Costa, return 2018 All-NECC honorees, defenders Max Fereira (Roseville, Calif.) and Tiago Pacheco (Cranston, R.I.). Lesley only gave up eight conference goals in 2018, for a 0.97 goals-against average, good for third in the league.
Dean College (12) and Becker College (9) round out the 2019 NECC Men's Soccer Coaches Poll, and will be in the mix for NECC supremacy in 2019.
2019 NECC Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Mitchell College- 29 (4)
2. New England College- 26 (2)
3. Eastern Nazarene College- 19
4. Elms College- 17
5. Lesley University- 15
6. Dean College- 12
7. Becker College- 9