The 2013-14 Great Midwest Athletic Conference Men's Soccer season will be the G-MAC's first season as an active NCAA Division II conference, and the field of competitive teams has expanded from its inaugural season in 2012.
With an expanded membership that more than doubles from three teams in 2012-13 to seven in 2013-14, the conference schedule will be much tougher for a team to work through on the way to earning the Conference Championship.
G-MAC newcomer Davis and Elkins College has been named the preseason favorites by the coaches, finishing just ahead of 2012-13 G-MAC runner-up, Cedarville University. While Davis and Elkins went 3-0 last season against G-MAC opponents, while Cedarville went 6-1 against G-MAC opponents. However, the one loss for the Yellow Jackets came to Davis and Elkins by a score of 3-0 in Elkins. The two match-up in Cedarville this season on Oct. 12.
Trevecca Nazarene ranks #3, followed by Alderson Broaddus (#4), Salem International (#5), Kentucky Wesleyan (#6), and Ohio Valley (#7).
G-MAC PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
|1.||Davis & Elkins College (4 First Place votes)||14-4-2||3-0-0|
|2.||Cedarville University (2 First Place vote)||17-4-1||6-1-0|
|3.||Trevecca Nazarene University (1 First Place vote)||9-9-0||2-2-0|
|4.||Alderson Broaddus University||6-9-0||2-2-0|
|5.||Salem International University||9-6-0||0-2-0|
|6.||Kentucky Wesleyan College||0-18-0||0-2-0|
|7.||Ohio Valley University||0-16-0||0-4-0|
NOTES FROM CAMPUS
Alderson Broaddus University: Despite a 5-9 overall record last season, the Battlers seem poised to make noise as a new member of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference for the 2013 season. AB captured five victories last year, two coming against G-MAC opponents, and returns a battle-hardened group of upperclassmen. Second Team All-WVIAC pick Jose Noriega, who led the Battlers with 14 points and seven goals, and 2013 Team Captain Jaron Hulme, who was a defensive stalwart for AB and consummate leader for the talented bunch, will lead the group.
Last season's freshmen accumulated valuable minutes and the coaching staff believes that will make a major impact in 2013. Pat Kelly, Zach Partyka, Austin Martin, and Ryan Gump logged hundreds of minutes last season, while Kelly earned an All-WVIAC Honorable nod for his play. AB added 10 freshmen to the squad and the coaching staff expects the class to provide depth and competition for the returners.
G-MAC opponents won't be foreign to the Battler squad as they will face former-WVIAC opponents Ohio Valley University, Davis & Elkins College and Salem International University. AB also has faced G-MAC foe Cedarville in recent seasons, including a 2-1 loss last year. Against the four opponents, AB went 2-2 last season.
Cedarville University: The Yellow Jackets set a school-record for victories during their 17-4-1 campaign last fall, and will play eight of their 18 matches on their home turf in 2013-14. Cedarville will open the season with three matches at home in a span of five days before it embarks on a six-match road trip beginning with the Sept. 17 date at Xavier.
G-MAC First Teamer Timmy Waller returns to lead the Yellow Jacket offense. The senior forward from North Africa led the 2012 squad with four goals and five assists for 13 points. He started all 22 games last year and was tied for the team lead with three game-winning goals.
Dillon King, a senior midfielder, joined Waller on the All-G-MAC First Team, while adding two goals and two assists, and providing solid play in the middle. Christian Alexander, Ethan Dewhurst, Eric Hoober, Daniel Rigby, Connor Scott and Ethan Shula are returnees who earned All-G-MAC Second Team recognition last season.
Davis & Elkins College: The Senators are coming off a 14-4-2 season, an NCAA tournament appearance for the first time in 25 years, and six weeks of national rankings. The team is set to return nine starters from last year's team, and with a strong recruiting class, the team has its sights set on a G-MAC title and another NCAA tournament appearance.
Going into unchartered territory with a new conference and a new region (Midwest Region), the schedule still looks to be a challenging one and strong enough to qualify for the NCAA's if they can post wins. Leading goal scorer James Pucci returns off of a 13 goal - 15 assist performance in 2012, in which he led the WVIAC in both categories and was ranked first in the nation in assists for NCAA Division II.
Complementing him in goal scoring is WVIAC Freshmen of the Year, Oliver Bienias, who had a strong freshmen campaign with 11 goals and three assists. D&E will return 43 of its 49 goals from last year with Branko Dugalic and Wyatt Hill also key contributors in that category. Bastien Catrin, Dan Savory and Declan McGill lead a strong defense that posted nine shutouts and had a GAA of .85 while only surrendering 17 goals in 20 games.
Kentucky Wesleyan College: The Panthers in a way will be playing in their second season with the G-MAC, as they officially participate in the Great Lakes Valley Conference last season, they also faced all three G-MAC teams last season, allowing their games to count toward the conference standings and tournament seeding's.
In 2012, KWC finished 0-18, including losses to G-MAC opponents Trevecca and Cedarville. The Panthers managed just five goals all season, but return the four players that scored the five combined goals. The young roster features just two seniors and six juniors, while 10 sophomores and nine freshman will look to push this program forward under Head Coach John Fusco, who enters his second season.
As for the team's schedule, anything is possible with eight new conference opponents, and a variety of winnable non-conference games. Though unlikely to contend for a conference title, KWC could dramatically improve upon its 2012 performances.
Ohio Valley University: The Fighting Scots are coming into the G-MAC and looking for a fresh start to the program. Having never faced Cedarville or Kentucky Wesleyan, OVU's career record against its 2013 G-MAC opponents is a combined 4-34-3. Of course a majority of the losses come against former WVIAC opponents Alderson Broaddus (1-10-1), Davis & Elkins (1-13-1), and Salem International (2-11-0).
The Scots welcome back leading goal scorer and points leader, sophomore Samuel Asimeng. As a freshman he scored four of the teams nine total goals on only 13 total shots. Asimeng will lead a group that will look to grow and move forward under Head Coach Jack Flynn, who enters his third season.
Salem International University: In 2012, as an independent program, the Tigers recorded an overall record of 9-6-0, going 0-2 against the two G-MAC members they faced. With only a few key losses to the roster, Salem will return goalkeeper Elliot Cook, who recorded six shutouts and recorded 52 saves in 2012.
Team captain Simeon Bratengeier will be counted on to fill the void of Dwyane Phidd who graduated last year and is now playing professional soccer in Puerto Rico, while Mehmet Dogan, who led the team with seven goals and four assists for 14 points, will be joined by Kevin Castillo on the front to guide the offensive attack of the Tigers.
Trevecca Nazarene University: All but one starter returns for the Trevecca men's soccer team entering the 2013 season. Consistency will be the theme of this season. TNU opens its season with home matches in five-of-its-first-six contests, including the G-MAC opener against Cedarville Sept. 19. The Trojans, coached by Danny Leavy in his fifth season, will look to improve upon their third-place finish a year ago.
The top two goal scorers from a year ago, Jonathan Baskin (10) and Richie Reichenberger (8), return to lead the Trojan offense. Matt Raines, another solid scoring option, who totaled seven goals last season, also returns. Defensively, Trevecca will be aided by the return of junior goalkeeper Braydon Brown, who played in 11 matches last season and posted a 1.60 GAA before being sidelined with a foot injury.
Coach Leavy has as balanced roster with five seniors and eight juniors in what will be a roster full of only his recruits for the first time. He will have one of the most experienced rosters in the conference, but with so many newcomers to the conference, anything will be possible.