WINTHROP, Mass. – Ranked No. 19 nationally in the United Soccer Coaches Division III Preseason Poll, three-time defending league champion Saint Joseph's College of Maine has laid claim to the top spot in the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Soccer Preseason Poll, as voted upon by the league's head coaches. The GNAC office unveiled the annual ledger on Wednesday morning.
First-year Monks head coach Will Pike takes over for Adrian Dubois, who left to become the top assistant coach at the University of Vermont, although that did not hinder the coaches' group from tabbing SJC with seven of the possible 12 first-place votes and 135 points overall in the poll.
Norwich University finished a close second just four points back of Saint Joe's, earning three three first-place tallies and 131 points, while Johnson & Wales University (RI) was third with one first-place nod and 126 points. JWU topped Norwich, 2-0, in last year's GNAC Semifinals before falling to SJC in the championship match, 1-0.
For the complete poll results, please see below.
Pike had been a Monks assistant coach for five seasons spanning a seven-year period, helping develop SJC into a regional powerhouse in recent years. In their current three-year GNAC title stretch, the Monks have gone 55-3-8 (.833) overall and 28-0-2 (.933) in the GNAC, garnering United Soccer Coaches New England Staff of the Year honors in 2017.
SJC however will be without a trio of 2018 seniors that captured 2019 GNAC major award honors in forward Brett Mattos, defender Dalton Gaumer and goalkeeper Blake Mullen. After defeating Middlebury last fall in the NCAA Tournament, the Monks' setback against Amherst in the second round snapped a 42-game undefeated streak, good for fifth-longest in Division III history.
Following SJC, Norwich and JWU, Colby-Sawyer College finished fourth in the poll with 97 points after the Chargers advanced to the GNAC Semifinals a year ago in their first year as a GNAC core member institution. Emmanuel College received 81 points to round out the top-five.
The remainder of the poll in succession included Regis College, the University of Saint Joseph (Conn.), Albertus Magnus College, Suffolk University, Lasell College, Anna Maria College and Rivier University.
Saint Joe's will open up with a road back-to-back on August 30-September 1 against Endicott and Gordon, respectively, before enjoying a three-week home stretch spanning five games in Standish, Maine from Sept. 3-21. That stretch includes the Monks' GNAC opener on Saturday, Sept. 14 against second-place poll finisher Norwich.
Norwich meanwhile will open up with three games at home against Southern Maine, Wheaton and Middlebury, with the first two as part of the Cadets Kickoff Classic on Aug. 30-31. The Cadets will be at JWU on Friday, October 18.
Johnson & Wales begins its season at Bridgewater State on Aug. 30, followed by a midweek road contest against Wheaton on Sept. 4. The Wildcats' home opener non-conference opponent will come versus Lesley on Sept. 10.
Be sure to catch all of the regular-season and tournament action live on thegnac.tv or watch on one of our four custom digital streaming apps (broadcasts are produced by host institutions). The 2019 GNAC Men's Soccer Tournament dates are slated for November 2, Nov. 5, and Nov. 9 at highest seeds throughout.
1. Saint Joseph's of Maine (7) - 135
2. Norwich (3) - 131
3. Johnson & Wales (1) - 126
4. Colby-Sawyer - 97
5. Emmanuel - 81
6. Regis - 78
7. Saint Joseph (CT) - 71
8. Albertus Magnus - 69
9. Suffolk (1) - 64
10. Lasell - 36
11. Anna Maria - 32
12. Rivier - 16