Empire 8 chooses Stevens, Nazareth
Stevens Institute of Technology, which captured the conference title with a goal in the 89th minute last year, is the choice of opposing coaches to capture its fourth Empire 8 men's soccer title in as many years in the conference. The Ducks, who finished second in the regular season in league play before winning the postseason conference tournament last season, have posted a 53-7-9 overall mark in the past three years.
Senior midfielder Nolan Sandberg was named Empire 8 Player of the Year, finishing the season with 11 goals and 25 points, including five game-winning scores last season. Stevens advanced to the sectional round of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Senior goalie Zach Carr was named to the all-conference first team after recording 16 shutouts and allowing just seven goals all season, including one in the final eight games.
Nazareth College, which earned the top seed in the conference tournament last year and advanced to the title game, received one first-place vote and is the coaches' choice to place second this year. Forward Alex Manchev was named Empire 8 Rookie of the Year in 2009 and led the Golden Flyers with eight goals and 16 points, including the game-winning goal in the final regular season game to clinch the top seed.
Senior midfielders Rikesh Kotak and Mark Van Thof, and junior goalie Ryan Platt all earned second-team all-conference honors a year ago for the Golden Flyers. Kotak finished with 12 points and connected on all four of his penalty kick attempts.
Ithaca College, which finished fifth a year ago, received one first-place vote and is the coaches' selection to place third this season. The Bombers have advanced to the postseason in 21 of the past 25 seasons, including a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2008 after earning the top seed for the fifth time in seven years in the conference tournament.
Rochester Institute of Technology, which put together a six-game winning streak late last season, was selected to finish fourth in this year's preseason coaches' poll. Senior midfielder Dominic Colaprete was named to the all-conference first team in 2009 after leading the Tigers with seven goals and 15 points. The team is currently finishing up a trip to Spain where it trained with, and competed against, some of the top collegiate and club teams in the country.
St. John Fisher College is picked fifth in the preseason coaches' poll. Senior back Andrew McIntosh was named to the all-conference second team last season for the Cardinals, who captured the ECAC Championship.
Utica College, which lost five one-goal games in conference play a year ago, was selected to finish sixth in the coaches' poll. The Pioneers were also picked sixth each of the past two seasons, including 2008 when they placed third in conference play.
Elmira College and Alfred University were picked to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, in the coaches' poll. Empire 8 Coach of the Year Jeremiah Kneeland led the Soaring Eagles to a 3-4 mark in conference play last season. Sophomore midfielder Erik Lee was named to the all-conference second team. The Saxons return sophomore Francesco Mannino, who also garnered second-team recognition in his rookie campaign.
Only once since 2002 (Stevens in 2007) has the top-seeded team in the conference tournament won the Empire 8 title. From 2003-2006, the third or fourth seed won or shared the Empire 8 title, while the second-seeded Ducks won the last two championships.
Empire 8 Sports Information