TOWSON, Md. – The University of Scranton men's soccer team was picked to lead the Landmark this season. The Royals received six first place votes on the way to earning 67 points and the top position in the 2013 Landmark Men's Soccer Preseason Poll. Catholic finished second in the poll with 46 points and one first place vote while the 2012 conference champions, Susquehanna University, finished third with 42 points and the remaining first place vote.
The 2012 regular season ended with a three-way tie between the three schools and the Landmark coaches predict the same group at the top this November. Last year both Scranton and Susquehanna advanced to the conference championship game and after 90 minutes of scoreless soccer, the two teams went to overtime. Susquehanna's Ryan Donlevie scored the game-winner in the 98th minute to give the Crusaders their first Landmark title.
Both teams earned bids to the 2012 NCAA tournament and both teams advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen." Susquehanna eventually lost to national runner-up Ohio Northern while Scranton reached the "Elite Eight" before falling to national champion Messiah. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) recently released their top 25 poll with Scranton at No. 10 and Susquehanna ranked No. 16.
The return of seven starters, including 2012 Landmark Conference Player of the Year and second-team All-American Bill McGuiness, should keep the Royals (17-3-2, 6-1) near the top of the conference standings once again this year. Veteran head coach Matt Pivirotto must replace two-year starter Jamie Dillon in goal, but plenty of talent returns on the back line to make the new goalie's transition a smooth one.
Catholic (13-6, 6-1) returns 10 of its 11 starters from a year ago, but will be looking to replace All-Landmark selection Mike Brennan, who tied for the team lead with seven goals in 2012. The 2012 Landmark Defensive Player of the Year, Kevin Romano, is expected to anchor the back line once again.
The Crusaders (18-3-1, 6-1) lost several key defensive players to graduation, but three of the top five goal scorers from 2012 return this season. In addition, senior All-Landmark goalkeeper Matt Salsman is back after starting all 22 games last season. He led the conference with a 0.37 goals against average.
Drew University (11-6-2, 4-3) rounds out the top half of the Landmark preseason poll with 37 points. The Rangers return four of their five All-Landmark selections from 2012 including their top five scorers. The team boasts an experienced defense that was ranked second in the conference in goals against average last season.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (7-8, 3-4) was picked fifth in the poll with 24 points and Juniata College (9-9, 1-6) was selected sixth with 17 points. Goucher College (5-10-1, 2-5) earned 16 points for seventh place while Moravian College (5-11-1, 0-7) wrapped up with seven points for the eighth spot.
The 2013 season kicks off Friday, Aug. 30 with six teams in action before the remaining two teams begin the season Aug. 31.
The top four teams in the final regular season standings qualify for postseason play in the Landmark Conference Tournament. The top two seeds will host semifinals Nov. 6 with the highest remaining seed scheduled to host the championship Nov. 9. The conference champion will earn the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
|2013 Landmark Men's Soccer Preseason Poll|
|Rank||Institution (First Place)||Points|