SOMERSET, N.J. – Coming off an 11-6-2 season and its first postseason appearance since 2007, the Sacred Heart University men's soccer team has been tabbed third in the 11 team Northeast Conference preseason poll, by the league's head coaches. Monmouth, the NEC two-time defending champion, was chosen by a unanimous selection to win its third straight title.
Head coach Joe Barroso and the Pioneers set a team Division I record with 11 victories a year ago, en route to a second place finish in the league, and received votes in the NSCAA/hendrickcars.com national poll after racing out to a 4-0-0 start to the season. Barroso was named the NEC Coach of the Year after turning around a 7-9-2 team from 2009 that was pegged to finish sixth in last season's preseason poll.
Despite losing eight seniors from last year's squad, Sacred Heart looks forward to this season behind the leadership of junior All-America defender Marcello Castro (Parana, Brazil). Castro, the NEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, became the first Division I All-America for SHU in program history and first overall since 1992. On the field, he led the Pioneers in scoring with 12 points, on five goals and two assists, while making the transition from the midfield to the backline.
Juniors Brian Francolini (Ellington, Conn.) and Justin Brewer (Somers, Conn.) each scored three and two goals, respectively, for a SHU offense that improved from 0.94 goals per game in 2009 to 1.32 last season.
The Pioneers open the season at home on Thursday September 1 at 7:00 pm against St. Peter's at Campus Field. The Northeast Conference portion of the schedule gets underway with a pair of games in Western Pennsylvania against Robert Morris on September 30 and Saint Francis (PA) on October 1. Sacred Heart takes on league favorite and preseason #27 in the College Soccer News Top-30, Monmouth, at home on October 16 at 1:00 pm.
Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Monmouth (10)
2. Fairleigh Dickinson
3. Sacred Heart
4. Saint Francis-PA (1)
5. Long Island
Mount St. Mary's
10. Central Connecticut