Monday, August 19, 2019
PORTLAND, Ore. – Fresh off a third consecutive conference title and its seventh championship in the past nine years, Simon Fraser enters the season as the unanimous favorite to defend its title in the 2019 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Preseason Men’s Soccer Coaches Poll.
Simon Fraser received all seven first-place votes for a total of 49 points. The Clan also enters its 2019 campaign ranked No. 13 in the 2019 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division II Men’s Preseason Poll.
Coming off a second-place finish in 2018, Western Washington enters 2019 picked second in the preseason poll with 38 points. The Vikings are followed by Saint Martin’s (32 pts.), which finished in third place last season. Rounding out the poll is Seattle Pacific (29 pts.), Montana State Billings (23 pts.), Concordia (16 pts.) and Northwest Nazarene (9 pts.).
Simon Fraser wrapped up its 2018 campaign with an overall record of 17-2-0 and a near-perfect conference record of 11-1-0. Its only blemish during the regular season was a 2-1 loss against Western Washington that snapped a 16-game win streak. The Clan would later fall to Cal Poly Pomona in the second round of the NCAA West Regionals.
The Clan will have to defend its title without the help of Mamadi Camara, the 2018 GNAC Player of the Year, and Michael North, the 2018 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year. Head coach Clint Schneider does return 13 letterwinners and seven starters from last year’s team that outscored its GNAC opponents 61-8.
Returning for the Clan are brothers Matteo and Marcello Polisi. Matteo was the leading scorer for the Clan in 2018 with 18 goals to go along with 11 assists and a team-leading 47 points. He received First Team All-GNAC, D2CCA West Region Player of the Year, and D2CCA First Team All-America honors. Marcello also received First Team All-GNAC and First Team All-West Region honors as a midfielder.
Also returning for the Clan is junior goalkeeper Luciano Trasolini. The 2018 GNAC Newcomer of the Year recorded 16 wins, 34 saves, 11 shutouts and a 0.44 GAA as a sophomore. Connor Glennon will also return, fresh off a First Team D2CCA All-America season, to help anchor the Clan offense.
Western Washington received a majority of the second-place votes in the preseason poll. The Vikings finished in fourth place in 2017 but made the climb to second place in 2018.
The Vikings return 18 letterwinners and eight starters to a team that went 11-6-1 (7-4-1 GNAC) in 2018. The Vikings finished second in the GNAC in goals, goals against average and shutouts. Returning for the Vikings is First Team All-GNAC midfielder Georg Cholewa, who scored eight goals and distributed seven assists as a sophomore.
Saint Martin’s shook things up in the GNAC last year. After finishing in last place in 2017, head coach Rob Walker led the Saints to a 9-9-0 (7-5-0 GNAC) record. The Saints’ third-place finish marks the best finish for the program since its third-place finish in 2011.
The Saints will rely heavily on senior forward Brandon Madsen and senior midfielder Sebastian Navarro. Madsen, a First Team All-GNAC and Second Team D2CCA All-West Region selection, will look to top his 13-goal junior season. Navarro, a Second Team All-GNAC selection, scored six goals to add to nine assists in 2018.
Seattle Pacific finished in sixth place last season but found itself picked fourth in the preseason poll. Entering his 12th season as head coach, Mark Collings returns five All-GNAC players in 2019.
Returning are forwards Titus Grant and Alden Massey. Grant scored 13 goals last season on his way to First Team All-GNAC honors. Massey, a Second Team All-GNAC selection, also contributed six goals of his own in 2018.
With Alex Balog leaving Montana State Billings for Villanova, the Yellowjackets welcome Thomas Chameraud into his first season as head coach after four seasons as an assistant.
After losing six starters from last year’s team, including three Second Team All-GNAC selections, the Yellowjackets will look to rebuild their lineup. The Yellowjackets showed bright spots in 2018, finishing in the top three in the GNAC in goals, assists, shots and points.
Returning for the Yellowjackets are Luca Battistotti and Samuele Folla. The two defenders finished 2018 with Honorable Mention All-GNAC honors.
Concordia, picked sixth, finished fourth in the conference standings last year. It was the Cavaliers’ best finish since 2015.
Dan Birkey enters his 32nd season as head coach of the Cavaliers. Returning on the field is Nicholas Denley, an Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection who scored five goals in 2018, including a game-winning goal in the Cavaliers’ 1-0 over Seattle Pacific.
Rounding out the 2019 GNAC Preseason Men’s Soccer Coaches Poll is Northwest Nazarene. The Nighthawks finished in last place in 2018, just a year after finishing in third place in 2017.
Entering his first year as head coach for the Nighthawks is Adam Pearce. Returning for the Nighthawks is junior forward Jake Levine, a Second Team All-GNAC selection who scored five goals and tallied a total of 15 points in 2018.
All seven GNAC teams will begin their regular seasons on Sept. 5 against non-conference opponents. Conference play is scheduled to begin on Oct. 3.