USMMA Claims Top Spot In Men's Soccer Poll
MADISON, N.J. - The United States Merchant Marine Academy men's soccer team has been picked as the favorite in the first season of competition in the Landmark Conference as selected in the Landmark Preseason Men's Soccer Poll. The head soccer coaches and sports information directors at each institution were polled for the preseason ballot.
USMMA claimed the top spot in the poll by the narrowest of margins as their 85-point total was one more than the University of Scranton which holds the second spot. Susquehanna University garnered 65 points to claim third place in the poll and was followed by Drew University which piled up 61points. Moravian College and Goucher College were separated by just one point at the fifth and sixth spots with 43 and 42 points respectively, while The Catholic University of America and Juniata College rounded out the poll.
A loaded offense looks to be the strength for Merchant Marine as the team returns all but one of its top-10 goal scorers from a squad that went 14-4-1 in 2006 and narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament. The Mariners will have to replace three All-Region players, including their starting keeper, from the 2006 squad.
Scranton also has the benefit of plenty of returning players including four performers who captured All-Conference honors during their careers. The team brings back eight of 11 starters from an 11-4-3 campaign last season.
Susquehanna reached the finals of its conference tournament en route to a 10-8-1 season in 2006. Back in the mix is an All-Conference defender who is one of five returning starters. The team will need to replace a pair of All-Conference honorees.
Much like Susquehanna, Drew is coming off a solid season but lost several players due to graduation. The Rangers went 9-8-1 in 2006 and reached both the conference and ECAC postseason. The team returns its starting keepers, two of its top three goal scorers and the conference rookie of the year from 2006.
Moravian was 5-12-1 last season, but had three of its wins come in conference outings. The Greyhounds have plenty of offense back in the fold as five of the six players with at least two goals a season ago are back. The team also welcomes back its starting goalkeepers.
Goucher enjoyed a .500 season in 2006 as it finished the year with a record of 9-9. The Gophers will miss five seniors from that team, including an All-Region pick, but do return four of their top five goal scorers from last year. One of those players was an All-Conference selection a year ago.
Catholic earned 24 points in the poll and will be under the direction of a new head coach in 2007. The roster features nine returning starters from a group that posted a 3-11-3 mark last season. Among the returnees is the team leader in goals and assists who was the conference rookie of the year last season.
Juniata rounds out the eight-team poll as the Eagles pulled in 17 points. The Eagles will also have a new coach at the helm and he'll have the benefit of bringing back seven starters from a team that went 5-13 last year. Among the players back in the mix are the top five goal scorers from last season.
The Landmark Conference begins competition this fall and will crown a conference champion in men's soccer. A men's soccer contest will be the first official Landmark Conference match as the top two teams in the poll meet on Sept. 15 as USMMA hosts Scranton.