Stars are coaches' pick in preseason poll
WAUKESHA, Wis. -- The Northern Athletics Conference announced its 2011 men's soccer preseason coaches' poll and defending champion Dominican earned the top spot receiving 11 of 12 first-place votes and 143 poll points.
The Stars, ranked No. 23 in the preseason National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division III poll, begin the season as the favorites after winning their fifth-straight Northern Athletics Conference title in 2010. Dominican (19-1-2 overall) went undefeated (10-0-1) in conference play last season, and has yet to lose a conference contest since the league's inception in 2006, compiling a 50-0-2 league record.
Dominican returns a solid core including reigning defensive player of the year Mariusz Napiorkowski and first team all-conference goalkeeper Maxwell Gutbrod (pictured), among four other first and second team all-conference performers. Last season the Stars' defense allowed a mere eight goals in 22 games for the top defense in the conference and third best in the nation. The defense had 16 shutouts in the regular season, allowing only four opponents to score, while the offense ranked fourth in the country with 3.0 goals per game.
Concordia Wisconsin (12-6-3, 7-2-2) grabbed the second spot in the poll with 117 points, after finishing fourth last season. Aurora (13-7-1, 10-1-0) was a close third with 115 points while MSOE (10-9-0, 8-3-0) is right behind in fourth with 113. Edgewood (7-11-0, 5-6-0) and Benedictine (9-9-1, 5-5-1) round out the top half in fifth and sixth. The full preseason poll is available below.
Most teams open play on Sept. 1 or 2, while the first conference games take place on Sept. 17. The winner of the conference tournament, which takes place Oct. 30, through Nov. 5, receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA III Championship Tournament.
2011 Northern Athletics Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Dominican (11), 143
2. Concordia Wisconsin, 117
3. Aurora, 115
4. MSOE, 113
5. Edgewood, 92
6. Benedictine, 80
7. Marian, 75
8. Lakeland, 61
9. Wisconsin Lutheran, 44
10. Concordia Chicago, 38
11. Maranatha, 34
12. Rockford (1), 24
first-place votes in parentheses
voted on by the conference's 12 head coaches