August 29, 2016

Thomas Tabbed Favorite in 2016 NAC Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll

Thomas College has been tabbed the preseason favorite in the 2016 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) men's soccer poll. The Terriers were voted to repeat as champions after receiving a total of 95 points, including seven of the ten first place votes.

Castleton University was selected second with 86 points and New England College took third with 75 points, after both the Spartans and Pilgrims earned one first place vote each. Colby-Sawyer College was voted fourth with 71 points, while Husson University garnered the remaining first place vote and 63 points to take fifth. Rounding out the poll were Maine Maritime Academy in sixth (47 points), University of Maine at Farmington in seventh (46 points), Johnson State College in eighth (30 points), Lyndon State College in ninth (27 points), and Green Mountain College in 10th (10 points).

Voting for the preseason poll was conducted among the league's head men's soccer coaches.

The top two teams in the 2016 poll competed for the NAC Championship title last season as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. The 2015 tournament saw two upsets in the quarterfinals, as No. 6 UMF defeated No. 3 Colby-Sawyer 2-1 in double overtime and No. 5 NEC advanced into the semifinals after winning a 4-3 shootout over No. 4 Husson. Top-seeded Thomas then earned a 2-1 overtime win against the Pilgrims in the semifinals, while No. 2 Castleton beat the Beavers 4-1. After two overtime periods tied at 2-2, the Terriers earned the 2015 NAC Title over the Spartans, as they outshot them 5-4 in penalty kicks.

After Thomas secured its fourth NAC title, the Terriers moved on to compete in the NCAA Tournament. In the first round of the national tournament, Thomas fell in dramatic fashion as Brandeis scored the go-ahead goal with just 42.6 seconds left in regulation to claim a 2-1 victory.


2016 NAC Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll

   Team                    Points (First Place Votes)
 1. Thomas 95 (7)
 2. Castleton 86 (1)
 3. New England College    75 (1)
 4. Colby-Sawyer
 5. Husson 63 (1)
 6. Maine Maritime 
 7. UMaine-Farmington  46
 8. Johnson State  30
 9. Lyndon  27 
 10. Green Mountain  10 


All ten NAC men's soccer teams will kick off the 2016 campaign this week. The top six teams in the regular-season conference standings will qualify for the NAC tournament, which gets underway Saturday, October 29, with quarterfinal action between seeds 3-6. The top two seeds will earn a bye in the first round and will take on the two quarterfinal winners in the semifinals on Tuesday, November 1. The two semifinal victors will battle for the NAC championship on Saturday, November 5.

Click HERE to view the 2016 NAC Men's Soccer composite schedule.
Click HERE to view the 2016 NAC Men's Soccer conference only schedule.

2016 NAC Men's Soccer Previews

For more information on each team, click the school name to be directed to the men's soccer section of each school's website.



1. Thomas (13-5-1, 8-1 NAC) will be under the guidance of sixth-year head coach Chris Parsons. The Terriers welcome back 19 returning players and another exciting recruiting class of 12 players from Bermuda, St. Thomas, Massachusetts and Maine. Senior Joakim Sternas (Stockholm, Sweden; pictured right) leads a group of four seniors that have set high expectations for the program with a goal to repeat as NAC Champions and return to the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament. 

2. Castleton (15-5-3, 8-1 NAC) looks to remain among the conference's elite after a trip to the title game a year ago. Head coach John O'Connor returns for his fourth season at the helm and his 22nd season at the collegiate level. Castleton returns 18 players from a season ago, including All-NAC First Team defender Paul Phillips (Hope Valley, R.I.; pictured right) who returns for his senior campaign. Phillips tallied one goal and seven assists a season ago, while anchoring a back line that helped Castleton to the lowest goals-against average in the NAC. Also returning for the Spartans is senior Nihad Basic (Burlington, Vt.), who scored five times and added three assists in 2015. Sophomores Thomas Kirk (Gloversville, N.Y.) and Peter Lynn (North Chittenden, Vt.) look to build on strong freshman campaigns in which they combined to score four goals and tally four assists. Castleton will have a new face in net this year, as Dan Palker (Westford, Vt.) and Aaron Parker (Windsor, Vt.) will battle for the starting spot. In limited action a season ago, Palker posted a 0.59 goals-against average, allowing just one goal in more than 150 minutes and earning a win over SUNY Canton. 

3. New England College (12-8-1, 5-4 NAC)
 will look to improve upon its finish last season, as the Pilgrims advanced past Husson in the NAC Quarterfinals after winning in penalty kicks, but eventually fell to Thomas in semifinal action. Head coach Dave DeCew is heading into his 14th season leading the Pilgrims and will look to his solid foundation of returners added with a nice mix of talented newcomers to lead the way in the conference this season. The Pilgrims will return three all-conference selections from a season ago, including junior forward Michael Skarbelis (North Andover, Mass.) who was named NAC First Team All-Conference last season and seniors Ronsard Masamba Haverhill, Mass.) and Rizy Misiri (Concord, N.H.; pictured right) who were named NAC Second Team All-Conference and will be instrumental on offense for the Pilgrims. 



4. Colby-Sawyer (11-8, 8-1 NAC), a team that is coming off of a program record eight conference wins in 2015, will be under the direction of first-year head coach Charles Metz. The team made its third-straight appearance in the ECAC tournament, but will look to make it back to the NAC title match for the first time since 2013. Leading the offense will be junior Denali Sexton (Barrington, R.I.; pictured right). Sexton, who was an All-NAC First Team selection, had team highs of 49 points, 18 goals and 13 assists last season. All-NAC First Team honoree senior Rick Prindiville (Hooksett, N.H.) will anchor the defense that recorded six clean sheets a season ago. 



5. Husson (8-6-2, 5-4 NAC)
will be under the guidance of first-year head coach Gavin Penny, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach. Husson will look to the senior duo of Josh Bean (Ellsworth, Maine; pictured right) and Nic Pare (Keene, N.H.) to lead the 2016 squad. Bean led the Eagles in assists last season, while Pare will spearhead a defensive unit that only allowed 1.6 goals per game in 2015. Josh Bellomo (Hudson, N.H.) returns for his junior campaign as one of the leaders on the team. The Eagles will aim for its fourth NAC Championship in program history in 2016. 



6. Maine Maritime (4-11-1, 3-5-1 NAC) will be under the leadership of first-year head coach Billy Shannon. The Mariners will return one of their leading scorers from last season, Tom Samson (Waterville, Maine; pictured right), who tallied four goals and two assists. Maine Maritime will look to return to the NAC Tournament led by a strong group of upperclassmen and a talented group of newcomers.




7. UMaine-Farmington (6-10-3, 3-4-2 NAC) is looking to build on the late season success from 2015, which included a NAC semifinal appearance, by using the strong leadership of the core returning players. Senior captain Henry Ametti (Skowhegan, Maine; pictured right) leads the Beavers into the new season with reinforcement coming from fellow senior Tayoung Nuyepga (Framingham, Mass.), juniors Matt Wilson (Hampden, Conn.) and Dan Bernier (Poland, Maine), and sophomore Tristan Price (Moultonborough, N.H.). UMF will face non-conference opponents Bates, Southern Maine, St. Joseph's (Me.), and the University of New England. UMaine-Farmington hosts UMaine-Presque Isle on September 4 in the season opener. 




8. Johnson State (3-12, 2-7 NAC) will be led by Ian Manson who enters his fourth season as the Badgers mentor. Johnson will rely on senior captains, forward Dom Caforia (Waterbury, Vt.; pictured right), and midfielder Richie Perez (Belmont, N.H.), to lead the squad. The Badgers will also look to their newcomers, especially freshmen attack Patrick Miller (Webster, Vt.) to help secure a spot in the NAC postseason this year. Johnson begins the season September 1, playing host to Wheelock. 




9. Lyndon (2-13-1, 1-7-1 NAC) will be led by Rob Carey, who returns for his second season at the helm of the Hornets. Senior Nik Fahey (Middleboro, Mass.; pictured right) comes back after starting all 16 games in 2015 to anchor the Hornet defense along with junior goalkeeper Matt LaClair (Beekmantown, N.Y.), and sophomore Nolan Matthews (Massapequa, N.Y.). Junior Liam Kelleher (Manchester, Vt.) returns to control the midfield for the Hornets. With a large veteran class of juniors, the Hornets hope to build momentum from their non-conference games as they enter the competitive NAC schedule and look to return to the conference tournament after a two-year hiatus.




10. Green Mountain (1-16, 0-9 NAC) will be under the direction of third-year head coach Peter Steese. Senior Ryan Crozier (Olmsted Township, Ohio; pictured right) will return to anchor the defense, while Victor Gollub (Silver Spring, Md.) will be looked upon to build on his success in the midfield last season. Green Mountain kicks of the season with a home contest against John Jay on September 3.