Westfield, Mass.— The MCLA Men's Soccer team was selected to finish seventh in the MASCAC preseason poll. The Trailblazers are coming off a 5-11 season a year ago and will feature a host of new faces in 2018. MCLA opens play on Friday, August 31st against St. Joseph (CT).
The 2017 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference men's soccer regular season and tournament champions Salem State have been picked to repeat this season as selected by the eight coaches from around the league.
Salem State received six first place votes for 47 points in this year's poll. The Vikings finished the MASCAC season 7-0 on their way to the conference regular season title. Returning for the defending champs is All-Conference goalie Chris Jimenez who between the pipes last season led the league in goals against average (0.98) and save percentage (.838) while finishing third in saves (83) and goals against (16). Joining him is teammate Nahuel Aligbay who also earned All Conference honors, leading the MASCAC in assists with 13 while tallying eight goals for 29 points.
Earning a first place vote with 40 points for the second spot is Bridgewater State. The Bears were 3-3-1 during the 2017 campaign. Returning in goal for the Bears, Nate Morgado was second in the league in wins with six, third in GAA at 1.39 and saves with five and fourth in saves with 78 on his way to earning All-Conference accolades last season. Framingham State is next in third with 31 points. The Rams were 4-3 last season. Coming back for the squad is All-Conference honoree Isaac De Souza who was second in the conference in goals with 15 and points with 33 while also tallying the third most shots in the league with 63.
Tied for fourth with 30 points are Westfield State and Worcester State. The Owls had three wins last season. After a solid freshman season, Luis Nieves returns after tallying three goals and an assist during the 2017 season. Earning the final first place vote are the Lancers who were 4-3 during league action in 2017. Bryan Brasil, 2017 All-Conference honoree, netted nine goals and two assists for 20 points while also scoring three game-winners for the Lancers.
Sitting in sixth with 28 points is Massachusetts Maritime. The Buccaneers were 4-3 last season with the help of MASCAC All-Conference member Adam Crawford who led the team with five goals and three assists for 13 points while going 2-for-2 on penalty kicks and scoring two game-winning goals.
Rounding out the 2018 preseason poll is MCLA and Fitchburg State in seventh and eighth, respectively. The Trailblazers finished with 11 points in this year's poll. The Falcons collected eight points in this year's poll. Back on defense is Tyer Brabham who helped the team only allow 2.05 goals per game with a shutout last season. Worcester State kicks off the 2018 season against Anna Maria August 27 while the other seven teams begin their seasons Labor Day weekend with non-conference contests.
The Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, the nation's oldest Division III men's and women's playing conference, has a rich and storied tradition of competitive success while celebrating excellence in the classroom. MASCAC member schools include Bridgewater State University, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, MCLA, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Salem State University, Westfield State University and Worcester State University. Two other institutions, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Plymouth State University, are affiliate members of the conference in the sports of football and men's ice hockey, while Western Connecticut State University joined the conference as an affiliate member in football beginning in 2013.
2018 MASCAC Men's Soccer Pre-Season Coaches Poll (First Place Votes In Parentheses)
1. Salem State (6) 47 points
2. Bridgewater State (1) 40 points
3. Framingham State 31 points
4. Worcester State (1) 30 points
Westfield State 30 points
6. Massachusetts Maritime 28 points
7. MCLA 11 points
8. Fitchburg State 7 points