STANDISH, Maine – The 2018 Saint Joseph's College men's soccer season kicks off Friday with a non-conference game at Gordon College (7:00 PM).
The tilt versus the Scots opens a 17-game regular-season schedule and marks the beginning of the Monks' efforts towards claiming their third-consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship. Saint Joseph's returns all but three starters from a squad that went 19-0-2 overall and outscored opponents by an otherworldly 67-1 aggregate score last fall.
STARTS AT THE TOP:
Fifth-year Head Coach Adrian Dubois, the 2016 and 17 GNAC Coach of the Year, has enjoyed a career trajectory seldom seen at any level since assuming the helm for the Monks in 2014. That fall, the rookie skipper took an undersized team to a GNAC Tournament berth with a 3-6 conference record and a 5-15 mark overall. In his second season, Dubois led the Monks to an 11-7-1 record, including a 6-3-0 tally in GNAC play, which led to the #3 seed in the conference tourney.
In his third season, the process began taking shape as the Monks went 15-2-6 overall with an 8-0-1 GNAC record en route to securing the top seed in the conference tourney, a GNAC Championship, and advanced in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in team history with a PK win over Babson College.
Under the watch of Dubois during his fourth year, Saint Joseph's posted the finest season in the 29-year history of the SJC men's soccer program. The Monks went 19-0-2 with a 9-0-1 record in GNAC play and, for the second-consecutive year, captured the conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In the first round, St. Joe's clinched the first national tourney win in team history with a 2-1 triumph over Mitchell College and held Tufts University scoreless before falling to the Jumbos – on their home field - in penalty kicks in the second round.
As a team, the Monks completed the 2017 campaign ranked first in NCAA DIII Men's Soccer in goals against average (.047), won-lost-tied percentage (.952), save percentage (.983), and shutout percentage (.952). Junior goalkeeper Blake Mullen (Manchester, Conn.) was also awarded NCAA Statistical Champion plaques after leading the country in save percentage (.981) and goals against average (.050) last fall.
The 2017 men's soccer team established new NCAA Men's Soccer records – for all three levels – in goals against average and save percentage. Saint Joseph's allowed just one goal in 1,930 minutes and broke the NCAA Men's Soccer record – again, all three levels – for consecutive shutout minutes (1,802:54). Mullen also set an individual NCAA Men's Soccer record (all levels) for consecutive shutout minutes (1,706:09) last season.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF:
The Monks nearly knocked off #3 Tufts University in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last fall, as the Royal Blue took the two-time defending champion Jumbos to penalty kicks on their home turf in Medford, Massachusetts on November 12th. Tufts proceeded to advance to the Elite 8 for the third time in the last four years.
St. Joe's lost three starters – departed seniors Sean Baker and Trevor Lopes and sophomore midfielder JoJo Strobino – from last year's roster. Baker, a four-year starting back, scored a goal and an assist over 21 contests, Lopes tallied eight goals and two assists en route to claiming Second Team All-GNAC accolades, and Strobino was a two-time First Team All-Conference performer.
Blake Mullen, senior goalkeeper
Mullen looks to cap his collegiate career with his finest season, which will be no easy task after setting new NCAA Men's Soccer (all levels) records for consecutive shutout minutes (1,706:09) as well as the single-season goals against average (0.05) and save percentage (.981) marks last fall. The Monks' all-time leader in goals against average (0.30), save percentage (.898), wins (39), and shutouts (28), Mullen garnered D3Soccer.com Second Team All-America, First Team All-GNAC, GNAC Goalkeeper of the Year, New England Soccer Journal (NESJ) Goalkeeper of the Year, NESJ Best XIs First Team, and Second Team United Soccer Coaches All-New England honors following the 2017 campaign.
Dalton Gaumer, senior defender
The backbone of one of the top backlines in the country, Gaumer helped the Monks register new NCAA Men's Soccer records (all three levels) for lowest goals against average (0.047), longest shutout streak (19 games), and consecutive shutout minutes (1,802:54) last fall and, for his efforts, was justly recognized with United Soccer Coaches Third Team All-America, D3Soccer.com Third Team All-America, United Soccer Coaches First Team All-Region, NESJ Best XIs Second Team, First Team All-Conference and GNAC Defensive Player of the Year honors following the season.
Brett Mattos, senior forward
Mattos etched his name into the SJC record books last fall when he became the Monks' career leader in goals (39), points (96), and game-winning goals (15) while establishing single-season high-water marks for goals (20) and points (50) during his junior campaign. He finished the year ranked in the top 10 in four NCAA DIII statistical categories and garnered GNAC Offensive Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference, United Soccer Coaches First Team All-New England, and New England Soccer Journal Best XIs First Team accolades for his efforts.
Rory Twomey, senior midfielder
Perhaps the Monks' most important player, Twomey has mostly flown under the radar as far as accolades are concerned, although he was recognized as the 2017 GNAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and collected Second Team All-Conference honors as a junior. The senior captain will not light up the scoreboard, but understands his role as the team's conduit in the middle of the field and has emerged as one of the elite midfielders in the region.
Noah Robinson, junior defender
An athletic, fast, and heady player, Robinson could be in line for a breakout season after scoring three goals with an assist over 15 games during an injury-plagued sophomore campaign. The 2017 Second Team All-Conference selection stands out in all quadrants of the pitch and will be a key player for the Monks this fall.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH:
Coach Dubois has brought in another bumper crop of recruits, as the 2018 roster is dotted with 11 talented first-year players with most –if not all – playing a role immediately this season.
Several players have stood out during preseason play, as forwards Kudi Onyejose (East Greenwich, R.I.) and Kuma Onyejose (East Greenwich, R.I.) – twins who starred at Bishop Hendricken High School – as well as midfielders Jonathan Brackett (Hollis, N.H.) and Austin Ward (North Andover, Mass.) and defender Michael Wildes (Winslow, Maine) figure to make an impact in 2018.
GAMES TO SEE:
Sep. 2 at Endicott College: The Monks take on the reigning Commonwealth Coast Conference champion Gulls in an early season matchup featuring a pair of 2017 NCAA Tournament teams. Endicott went 13-5-3 last fall and fell to Springfield College, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA tourney.
Sep. 9 at Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears, who received an at-large berth into the 2017 NCAA Tournament, look to avenge last season's 1-0 loss at the hands of the Monks. The 1-0 triumph over Bowdoin at the SJC Athletics Complex on September 19, 2017 was the Monks' first over the Polar Bears in five attempts.
Sep. 15 vs. Johnson & Wales: A crucial matchup between the top two teams (according to the GNAC Preseason Poll) in the conference, this early-season contest will put either the Monks or the Wildcats in the driver's seat for home field advantage in the GNAC Tournament. Last fall, Johnson & Wales posted an impressive 15-2-2 record and rattled off a 15-game unbeaten streak after falling to the Monks, 1-0, on their home turf on September 9th.
Oct. 23 vs. Salem State: The Monks host 2017 MASCAC Salem State University in the regular-season finale. These two NCAA Tournament qualifiers have met just once before, when the Vikings topped the Monks by a 3-0 score over 20 years ago (9/7/96).
CLOSER LOOK AT 2018 SCHEDULE: