Aug. 23, 2011
2011 Composite Schedule
2011 Team Pages
Preseason Audio Interviews with the Head Coaches
CENTER VALLEY, Pa.– With a First-Team All-Patriot Leaguer in goal and a top 50 professional prospect on the roster this upcoming season, Colgate was named the favorite in the Patriot League Preseason Men’s Soccer poll when the Raiders garnered the top spot, it was announced Tuesday.
The Raiders topped the preseason poll with 94 points and 10 first-place votes, with two-time defending champion Bucknell taking second with 86 points and four first-place ballots. American secured the third position with 69 points, while Lehigh was close behind in fourth with 65 points and the two remaining first-place votes. Lafayette was fifth with 53 points, while Navy took sixth with 41. Rounding out the poll was Holy Cross in seventh with 21 points and Army in eighth with 19.
The preseason individual awards featured a pair of known names, as Bucknell sophomore Brendan Burgdorf and Lehigh senior Kevin Strunk were named Preseason Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Both won the corresponding awards at the end of last season.
Voting was performed by head coaches and sports information directors who could not vote for their own teams or student-athletes.
Burgdorf enters his third season with the Bison having been a critical part of a pair of Patriot League title squads and guiding the team to two NCAA Tournaments. He finished second in the League with six goals and third with 14 points last season and was named Offensive Player of the Year and earned First-Team All-League laurels. Last week he was named to the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List. The award is presented after the season to the top collegiate men’s and women’s soccer players as selected by members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Strunk garnered First-Team All-League accolades a year ago after starting in all 18 of Lehigh’s matches and solidifying a Mountain Hawks’ defense that allowed just 18 goals and posted eight shutouts. While he is known as one of Lehigh’s strongest and most stable presences on defense, he did contribute offensively last season as well, with his largest output coming in the season-opening 3-0 victory over Rutgers. Strunk tallied a pair of assists against the Scarlet Knights.
Colgate enters 2011 hoping to erase the disappointment of last year’s ending. The Raiders went 5-0-2 in League play to secure the No. 1 seed and hosting responsibilities for the League tournament, but fell to fourth-seeded Bucknell in the semifinals. The Raiders boasted seven All-League performers a year ago and lose two important midfield pieces to graduation, but five are set to return, including first-teamer and reigning League Goalkeeper of the Year Chris Miller. He’s joined by classmate Steve Miller, who earned Second-Team laurels last year and was recently named the No. 50 pro prospect on Joe’s Big Board on TopDrawerSoccer.com. Erik Ronning, the reigning Coach of the Year, enters his seventh season in Hamilton.
Bucknell hopes to have its playoff positioning sewn up this year well ahead of last season’s timetable. The Bison needed a victory over Lehigh and help to jump into the League tournament as the No. 4 seed, and that’s exactly what happened. Bucknell’s overtime win in Bethlehem coupled with Lafayette’s victory against Navy put the Bison into the four-team field. The herd thundered through Colgate and American en route to its second straight League title and NCAA Tournament appearance. Bucknell graduated two of its four All-League selections from a year ago, but Burgdorf is joined by senior Andrew Powell, a Second-Team honoree in 2010, and last season’s Rookie of the Year Mayowa Alli. The Bison finished 10-9-2 overall after suffering an overtime loss at Penn in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Brendan Nash will lead from the Bucknell sideline for the 13th year.
American made the League tournament for the third year in row and advanced to the championship match for the second straight year. The Eagles have a strong nucleus prepared to take the next step toward a League title, headed up by a pair of All-Leaguers from last season. Senior goalkeeper Matt Makowski and junior attack Alassane Kane both earned Second-Team honors in 2010. Kane emerged as the Eagles’ top offensive threat, as he led the League with seven goals and tied for the top spot with 16 points. Makowski, who became the second League student-athlete named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List last week, remained a stalwart in net. He was second in the League last season with 77 saves, third with a .802 save percentage and fifth with a 1.08 goals-against average.
Lehigh finished second in the League with a 4-2-1 mark for 13 points, but its season ended in the League tournament semifinals at the hands of American. The Mountain Hawks, under the direction of 20th-year head coach Dean Koski, are looking to improve upon last year’s 8-8-2 overall mark. They’ll have to do it without Austin Decker, who garnered Second-Team All-League accolades a year ago as a sophomore. He is leaving school to perform a two-year Mormon mission. The good news for Lehigh is its top two scorers from a year ago are returning. Joe Puleo led the club with nine points (4g, 1a) and Neal Melchionni scored eight (3g, 2a).
Lafayette’s streak of consecutive League tournament appearances ended at eight last season, and the Leopards are eager to return to the postseason. Dennis Bohn enters his second decade as the leading voice on the sideline in Easton, and the 11th-year head coach has guided the Leopards to winning records in each of his seasons. Lafayette went 3-3-1 in League play for 10 points last season, missing the four-team playoff by a single point. Two of three All-Leaguers from last season have graduated, but the team returns its top two scorers in juniors Sean Peckham (4-4-12), himself a First-Team All-League selection in 2010, and Kyle Scharfenberg (4-0-8).
Third-year head coach Dave Brandt looks for his Navy team to make significant strides in 2011. The Mids have been absent from the League tournament since 2001, but the program showed significant promise last season with a group of freshmen and sophomores playing large roles. Navy finished 7-5-4 overall, including a 4-1-2 record at home, and went 2-2-3 in League play to finish two points out of a playoff berth. Nine out of the team’s top 10 scorers from last year are all back, including junior and Second-Team All-Leaguer Michael Rakoczy (5-1-11) and sophomores Dave Arnold (5-2-12) and Patrick Sopko (3-4-10). Sophomore Aaron Dupere was the keeper of record in all 16 matches last season with six shutouts and a League-best 0.78 GAA.
Holy Cross is also under the leadership of a third-year head coach in Ted Priestly. The Crusaders graduated a pair of Second-Team All-League performers in Kyle Miller and Tom Van Grinsven, so a new group of seniors will need to step up to lead a team that finished 3-10-5 overall and 0-4-3 in League matches. Sophomore Kevin O’Connell, who scored eight points on three goals and a pair of assists, is the team’s leading returning scorer. Junior Evan Polanik returns in goal as well.
Army ended the season 3-12-2 overall and 0-5-2 in League play but showed signs of improving as the year progressed. The Black Knights finished the season on a two-match undefeated streak, going 1-0-1 to close the year. Jeff Pickett was a Second-Team All-League selection last season on defense and returns for his senior year. Second-year head coach Russell Payne has experience returning as his top seven scorers are back, and junior Michael Fiuk leads a crop of four goalkeepers on the roster, including three freshmen.
The 2011 season begins Friday with four matches. The first contest features Army starting the season at home against Marist at 5 p.m. Two matches are slated for 7 p.m., with Bucknell hosting Binghamton and Holy Cross welcoming Boston University to Worcester. Navy’s season starts at 8 p.m. at VCU.
Three teams open Saturday, with American taking on No. 15 Ohio State at 4:30 p.m. in University Park, Pa., in the first of two matches for the Eagles against nationally-ranked opponents. Two matches are scheduled for 7 p.m., with Colgate hosting Syracuse and Lehigh entertaining Stony Brook.
The weekend concludes with Navy visiting Old Dominion Sunday at 7 p.m.
American’s tilt Saturday with the Buckeyes is the first of many this season involving League schools against squads ranked in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Preseason Top 25. The Eagles finish their two-match visit to University Park with a 7 p.m. match Monday against No. 18 Penn State. Other matches against top-25 schools include Holy Cross hosting No. 20 Dartmouth Sept. 2, Bucknell taking on No. 17 Indiana and No. 12 Notre Dame in a weekend tournament at South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 9 and 11 and Lehigh visiting No. 7 California on Sept. 9. On Oct. 25 Colgate will visit No. 20 Dartmouth, Holy Cross will host No. 11 Brown and American will travel to No. 22 Virginia. A day later Bucknell will welcome No. 18 Penn State to Lewisburg.
One soccer match involving a League squad is currently scheduled for national television, as Lafayette will visit Princeton Oct. 11 on ESPNU at 5 p.m.
2011 Patriot League Preseason Men’s Soccer Poll
Colgate – 94 points (10 first-place votes)
Bucknell – 86 (4)
American – 69
Lehigh – 65 (2)
Lafayette – 53
Navy – 41
Holy Cross – 21
Army – 19
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Brendan Burgdorf, Bucknell, Jr.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Strunk, Lehigh, Sr.