WINTHROP, Mass. – Having advanced past the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament each of the last two seasons, Saint Joseph's College of Maine has taken the top spot in the 2018 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, as voted upon by the league's 12 head coaches.
Ranked No. 25 in the US Soccer Coaches national preseason poll, the Monks collected 11 of a possible 12 first-place votes in the rankings, garnering 142 points overall. Johnson & Wales University (RI) took the second position with 131 points.
SJC has upended Norwich University, which finished third in the poll with the one remaining first-place tally and 115 points, in the GNAC Championship contest each of the last two years. In turn, Norwich has taken down JWU in the GNAC Semifinals each of the last two seasons.
In 2017, Saint Joseph's did not allow a goal all season until its NCAA First Round matchup with Mitchell, winning 2-1, before falling to No. 3 Tufts on penalty kicks in the NCAA Second Round. In 2016, SJC advanced past Babson in the NCAAs on penalty kicks before succumbing to Brandeis.
In search of capturing their third straight GNAC Championship, Monks fifth-year head coach Adrian Dubois' squads have compiled a 34-2-8 (.864) the last two seasons combined, forming into a regional power. SJC will begin its 2018 journey on the road against a pair of Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) opponents: at Gordon (Aug. 31), at Endicott (Sept. 2).
JWU will be at home for its first four contests – three of the non-conference variety (Plymouth State, Wheaton, Coast Guard) – before welcoming Regis (Mass.) in both teams' GNAC opener on Saturday, September 8. Regis finished fourth in the poll with 101 points after drawing Saint Joseph's in the GNAC Quarterfinals last season, the Pride's first year as a core member of the GNAC.
Norwich will open up the 2018 slate with its GNAC opener against Lasell College on Friday, August 31. Following that, the Cadets have four non-league opponents at home against Northern Vermont-Lyndon, on the road versus Middlebury, then at home again to take on Maine Maritime and Maritime (N.Y.).
Suffolk University finished fifth in the poll with 94 points, while Colby-Sawyer College, which enters its first season of GNAC play as the conference's newest core member, placed sixth with 85 points. Emmanuel College was seventh with 74 points, followed by Albertus Magnus College with 68 points. Making up the remainder of the poll in succession was Anna Maria College, Rivier University, Lasell, and the University of Saint Joseph (Conn.).
For USJ, it will mark the Blue Jays' inaugural men's soccer campaign, as the institution becomes fully coeducational for the first time ever on campus this fall. Not only will USJ now have a male student body, but its athletic department will sponsor men's sport offerings for soccer, basketball, cross country and swimming & diving during the upcoming 2018-19 academic year.
The 2018 GNAC Tournament dates are scheduled for Saturday, October 27 (quarterfinals), Tuesday, October 30 (semifinals) and Saturday, November 3 (championship) at the highest seeds throughout, without reseeding at any point. Be sure to catch all of the tournament action live on thegnac.tv or watch on one of our four custom digital streaming apps. Broadcasts are produced by host institutions.
Fans can also purchase GNAC co-branded and championship apparel through the conference office's recently announced partnership with SquadLocker. For more information, please click HERE.
2018 GNAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
1. Saint Joseph's (Maine) (11) - 142
2. Johnson & Wales - 131
3. Norwich (1) - 115
4. Regis (Mass.) - 101
5. Suffolk - 94
6. Colby-Sawyer - 85
7. Emmanuel - 74
8. Albertus Magnus - 68
9. Anna Maria - 39
10. Rivier - 38
11. Lasell - 32
12. Saint Joseph (Conn.) - 17
COURTESY OF GNAC SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE